Specialized calls on companies in bike industry to recycle carbon frames
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Specialized calls on companies in bike industry to recycle carbon frames

by VeloNation Press at 7:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tech News
American company wants others to show environmental responsibility

Aiming to reduce the amount of waste in the industry, Specialized today unveiled plans to push for what it hopes will become a widespread recycling of carbon fibre. Pointing out that thousands of damaged frames are dumped into landfills each year, it has said that it will work with bike shops to collect damaged frames and to take them to a recycling agent in the US.

It said that the new push is inspired by similar programmes carried out in the aerospace industry, and that it will expand into Europe ‘as soon as appropriate resources are identified.’

“You’re probably not going to make a bike from recycled carbon, but you can make a range of products with the shorter fibers,” stated the company’s sustainability strategist Bryant Bainbridge in a company statement . “For example, Boeing recycles its stabilizer fins into armrests. Besides keeping these frames out of the landfill, you’re recovering carbon with significantly less energy than it took to make virgin material.”

Once transported to the recycling centre, the tubing will be chopped into smaller segments and then further broken down into shorter fibres by burning off the epoxy that bundles the material together. It can then be used in a number of different ways, extending the functional use of the substance far beyond the original lifespan of the frame.

The company, which recently became part of the Outdoor Industry Association Eco-Index working group, states that the drive is not about scoring points over others; in fact, it wants to see its rivals also get involved. “Specialized is committed to addressing what happens to our bikes at end of life because it’s the right thing to do,” said Bainbridge. “But this program isn’t about being brand exclusive. Trek is also doing good work here and every company in the industry that produces carbon products is encouraged to join in the effort.”

In order to facilitate this, the company’s dealers will accept frames from all manufacturers. These will then be transported to the company carrying out the recycling, namely Materials Innovation Technology. A report will be provided at next year’s Eurobike and Interbike shows.

Specialized’s Global Marketing manager Nic Sims said that it is a process that he hopes grows as time passes. “I think that having Bryant Bainbridge heading all our sustainability is great because he has done so much for other companies and has a very positive outlook on these topics,” he told VeloNation. “He understands that these things cannot change overnight, that there is so much work that is done behind the scenes before you can roll these things out.

“He doesn’t want us to be seen as the leaders…we as a industry need to get behind this. He has mentioned that and has called out the work Trek has done too. We have always done a lot of work for trail advocacy and this is just another step.”

The initiative will start at some point next year. The timescale is not yet clear, but the company will give more details to its dealers in January. In the meantime, Bainbridge formally called on others in the industry to also get involved.

“This is a shared industry problem and one we all need to address,” he emphasised. “We are going to pick up the tab now, but we want everyone on board. This is about collaboration, not egos. Come Eurobike, we’ll share everything we’ve learned.”


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