The disposal of bicycle tyres is a significant environmental issue, with Velorim suggesting that 30,500,000 tyres and 152,500,000 inner tubes are disposed of at landfill in the UK each year. As cycling is further promoted as a sustainable transport model and more tyres are used as a result, things understandably have to change.
The Environment Bill 2019-21, which is currently at the committee stage in the House of Commons, looks set to bring the disposal of used bicycle tyres into line with the laws which have made it illegal to dump motor vehicle tyres since 2003.
Work on this issue began back in 2018 when a survey, conducted by the Association of Cycle Traders (ACT), found that 44,000 tonnes of bicycle tyres and inner tubes ended up in landfill each year. This led to a recycling scheme being created where participating bike shops and cycle businesses act as collection points for used tyres and inner tubes.
Run by Velorim, the scheme was scheduled to be up and running by the end of 2020 with users paying 50p for each tyre they recycle and 20p per inner tube. The timescale, however, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so there may be some delay should the bill even pass.
With the potential delay in mind, here’s how you can currently recycle your tyres and tubes.
Currently, many councils will accept bicycle tyres free of charge at local recycling centres, combining these with motor vehicle tyres. Many of those recycling centres, however, will not allow you to turn up unless you’re in a car, something that one cyclist has successfully changed in Devon after being turned away on his cargo bike.
Hopefully, we’ll see more councils accepting people turning up on bikes soon.
If you’ve got a set of tyres that you really like, or you’d like a subtly cycling-related fashion accessory, why not get a belt, watch strap, wallet or saddle bag from a company such as Recycle & Bicycle or BuckIt Belts?
Inner tubes are easier to recycle with a number of recycling schemes already in place. Cycle of Good has a wide network of inner tube drop-off points across England and Wales. They take your used inner tubes and send them to Malawi where ten full-time tailors turn them into products that are then sold on. You can read more about them here.
As off.road.cc reported back in January, tyre and inner tube manufacturer Schwalbe has also got an inner tube recycling programme in place having recently launched a scheme that can turn old tubes into new ones with no loss of quality.
They say that the scheme has been running successfully in Germany for five years and that any brand of inner tube is welcome, including slime tubes and those with latex sealant. A list of participating bike shops will be here when the scheme becomes fully operational.
Do you know of other schemes, either nationally or in your local area? Let us know below.