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Bicycle Recycling

Bicycle Recycling and Disposal

Recycling bicycles is a green way to get rid of your old, damaged, or unneeded bike. However, the best thing to do with a bike you no longer want is to offer it for reuse – whether you sell or donate it. Even if it’s broken and you can’t repair it, someone else might be able to.

It’s also possible to recycle a bicycle. If you or your business has one or more bikes you don’t need and can’t give away, there are other recycling and disposal methods. Discover what to do with old bikes and everything you need to know about bicycle recycling in this guide.

Learn about bike tyre recycling

Bike recycling

  • What are bicycles made from?

    Bicycles are made from a variety of materials as they’re built from different parts. The main component of a bicycle is the diamond-shaped frame, which has seen the biggest changes. Early bikes were made of wood or iron, and they were heavy and hard to ride. Modern bike frames are made from strong, lightweight materials including aluminium, carbon fibre and titanium.

    Other components, such as the wheel spokes and bicycle chain, are typically made from stainless steel. Bike tyres are normally made from rubber, while the seat material depends on the type of bicycle – cheaper models have plastic seats, but more expensive bikes can have seats made from fibre-reinforced polymer or a carbon-fibre shell.

  • What happens if you no longer want your bicycle?

    If your bicycle is still in working order, the best way to dispose of it is to give it to someone you know. If you don’t know anyone looking for a bargain bike, then consider selling on places like Gumtree, or listing it on pages such as Freecycle.

    You can also donate working and broken bikes to some charities. Check your local council website for a list of charity shops in your area, who may take your old bike. Charities like Halfords’ Bikes to Africa scheme can get your unwanted wheels to those who really need them.

    If your bike needs repairing, there are various charities that will refurbish and repurpose your bicycle. These include organisations like The Bicycle Project, who repair bicycles and distribute them to those in need.

  • Can a bicycle be recycled?

    Yes, recycling old bikes is possible. If your bicycle is truly beyond repair and you can’t find anyone who can repurpose its parts, then your local recycling facility can help. Most bicycles can be broken down into their component parts and much of this will be sent for metal waste recycling.

    Other elements such as your bicycle seat may go for plastic recycling. Recycling bikes that are broken beyond repair helps the environment and avoids them going to landfill. Sadly, an estimated 15 million bikes are discarded each year, and many of these end up in landfill.

  • Can you recycle carbon fibre bikes?

    Carbon fibre bikes are strong, light, and much loved by cyclists worldwide. However, when it comes to recycling, carbon fibre bicycles present a problem. This popular material will not biodegrade, and unless reused, a discarded carbon fibre frame will simply sit in a landfill site, taking up valuable space and adding to pollution levels.

    The good news is that carbon fibre bikes are often much sought after. This means you should be able to find someone who will take it off your hands whether you want to sell or donate a carbon fibre bike you no longer need.

  • What are the problems with recycling bicycles?

    The first issue with bike recycling is knowing which metal your bicycle is made of. The simplest test is to pop a magnet on the frame – if the magnet sticks, it’s steel. If it doesn’t, it’s likely to be aluminium, carbon or titanium. Check the manufacturer and model to identify the exact material of the frame.

    You also need to think about all the different parts that make up the bike, such as the pedals, tyres, and seats. These are often made of various materials, so knowing each material is important for proper recycling. A simple search of the manufacturer and model should provide this information.

  • What are some facts about recycling bicycles?

    The most common type of bike frame is steel – it’s sturdy, strong, and reasonably lightweight. It’s also eco-friendly, as 100% of steel can be recycled. Steel is used to make food cans, all sorts of building components, and countless products around the world. Steel can be melted down and reused infinitely. Your local recycling centre will be able to recycle your steel bike frame and component parts.

    If your bike is made from another metal – like titanium or aluminium – you should also be able to find somewhere that will take it for recycling. A local scrap metal dealer, or your local recycling centre should be able to recycle such bikes.

  • Who invented the bicycle?

    Karl von Drais is credited with inventing the bicycle in 1817. This early model was very different to what we’re used to today, with a wooden frame, no pedals, and a distinctly bumpy ride. It was only after the 1888 invention of the pneumatic tyre that these early bicycles lost their nickname of “the boneshaker”.

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