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Ban on disposal of bike tyres in landfill moves closer

England and Wales set to ban bicycle tyres and inner tubes from landfill, says head of Velorim – which manages The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme

The banning of bike tyre and inner tube disposal in landfill looks to be a step closer after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) hosted a representation from The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme last month and heard that national coverage of collection points for used tyres and inner tubes is in place, according to Cycling Industry News

Cycling might have a lot going for it in terms of green and environmentally friendly credentials but tyres of all kinds are a source of pollution. Velorim, which runs The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme, says that in the UK over 9,300 tonnes of tyres and inner tubes go to landfill every year.

> How green are your bike tyres? What the big brands are doing, and what YOU can do to help

Velorim reported to DEFRA last month that it now has national coverage of collection points for used tyres and inner tubes and is set up to handle the increase in scrap that a ban on sending these items to landfill would generate.

It has been illegal to send automotive and agricultural tyres to landfill in England and Wales for two decades – since the introduction of the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 – but bicycle tyres are specifically excluded from the legislation. 

You can go to Velorim’s website and tap in your UK address or postcode to find your closest collection point. 

Velorim says, “Most centres are charging a recycling levy for the ecological disposal of tyres and inner tubes, typically 55p per tyre and 25p per tube.”

Although recycling inner tubes is a relatively straightforward process, tyres are more difficult because they can contain features like fibre reinforcement and steel beads. 

Velorim says that it has lots of options for recycling the collected tyres and tubes. Some of these generate revenue but the majority of waste is reprocessed at a cost, hence the recycling levy. 

The tyres and tubes end up as everything from non-slip flooring to surfaces used for cycle paths and footpaths. Some rubber is ground down to be used as a filler in new products and all high-tensile steel wire is recovered to be used elsewhere.

> Check out what Velorim does to recycle tyres and inner tubes in more detail here 

Cycling Industry News reports Dave Hawthorn, Chairman of Velorim, as saying, “This is a momentous day for the cycle trade with England and Wales looking set to be the first place in the world to introduce environmental controls on bicycle tyres and inner tubes that would ban them from landfill and limit overseas disposal.

“Whilst we respect that it will take time for DEFRA to go through its consultation process, we are not expecting objections to be raised now that the recycling scheme is operational nationwide, particularly as the burden of cost lies on the consumer, not the trade. We stand ready to accommodate what we anticipate being a twenty-fold increase in scrap volumes once legislation changes and the public are made aware.”

Whatever the timescale, the banning of the disposal of bike tyres in landfill looks inevitable with DEFRA saying it’s committed to consult on measures that move end-of-life products higher up the waste hierarchy.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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