Guest post written solely for BikeExchange by Globo Surf
Bike commuting is rightfully seen as one of the greenest modes of transport, but the amount of waste generated by used bike tubes and tires is often overlooked. Replacing irreparably damaged tires and tubes is both easy and affordable, but in a world that is becoming increasingly aware of irresponsible waste, how can we facilitate proper bicycle tire recycling?
Unless the local waste management service specifies that rubber is accepted, placing bike tubes and tires in the recycling bins at the curb is not recommended. However, there are other alternatives you can use to recycle bike tubes and tires. In this detailed guide, Globo Surf will take a deeper look at these alternatives.
Why You Shouldn’t Throw Bike Tires and Tubes into the Recycling Bin
Bike tubes are manufactured using butyl rubber, as well as other chemical additives that give the rubber additional properties. Mountain bike tires, on the other hand, feature a beading along the wheel rims holding the tire in place, a woven fabric base layer, and an outer rubber coating with treads to enhance grip on the road.
A synthetic plastic, butyl rubber does not biodegrade. It only breaks down into finer particles known as microplastics. Over time, the particles get into the water and soil, resulting in absorption up the food chain.
Most local waste transfer stations are only capable of handling wastes made up of pure substances. Featuring a combination of materials and additives, bike tubes, and tires make conventional recycling difficult. Adding these bike wastes to the recycling bin features a huge impact, often resulting in the perfectly recyclable items being sent to the landfill.
Easy Ways to Reuse and Recycle Bike Tubes
If you have just upgraded your tires and tubes, there are several ways you can repurpose the old wheel components. One of the best ways of conducting bicycle tire recycling is building new household items or improving existing items with the tires. Below, we will show you how to do this:
1. Tie-Downs or Straps
An ideal way to reuse or recycle bike tubes, this option only requires trimming and tying. Working just as well as bungee cords for securing things to your commuter bike, the tie downs can enhance safety for your luggage. Alternatively, if the wind is wreaking havoc in your home, you can always secure tarps, young saplings, and awnings with the tough, durable tubes instead of using plastic tie-downs.
2. Outdoor Seating
A perfect way to recycle bike tubes, this method allows you to give new life to your sun-worn patio with impressive woven tube seats. The plastic straps or netting that is often used on outdoor furniture becomes brittle and breaks with extended periods of sun exposure.
You can replace the netting by simply ripping it out of your worn seating and weaving a simple netting from your used bike tubes. The tubes are strong enough to handle repeated use and stretchy enough to offer comfortable seating.
3. Super Tires
A top-rated way for conducting bicycle tire recycling, this method involves cutting out the tread of worn tires and gluing it to the inside of your new tires, along the center. This helps extend the lifespan of your new road bike tires.
4. Play Structures
As a child, you probably enjoyed playing on an old car tire swing. You can create a similar experience for your kids using your old bicycle tires.
An ideal way to repurpose multiple tires, you will need to bind several tires together to make a thick ring. Fasten the tires to a favorite tree with a rope and this should provide an ideal place for your kids to play.
5. Handlebar Grips
Featuring better grip and comfort, taped MTB handlebars are always an ideal option for long-distance cycling. If you can access used bike tubes, you can avoid spending money on handlebar tape.
Simply cut the tube open into a long rectangular strip. Next, wrap the tube tightly over your bare handlebars to get a new grippy surface.
Where to Take Bike Tires and Tubes for Recycling
If you are incredibly busy and cannot find time to reuse your old tires and tubes, there are places where you can take the tires and tubes. Facilitating bicycle tire recycling, the following venues should help you get the tires and tubes out of your house:
1. Municipal Waste Management
If you reside in a big municipality, it is possible that the local recycling and waste management service accepts tubes and tires. They may, however, have special drop-off and pick up instructions or requirements. Hence, always be sure to check their websites before dropping off your used tubes and tires.
2. Local Bike Shops
Check with the retail bike shops in your neighborhood. Most of these shops will have “take back” programs for old tires and tubes. Some may require you to pay a small processing fee, which compared to the benefits of not dumping the waste in the environment is infinitely small.
3. Car Tire Shops
Most commercial recyclers accept both car and bike tires, especially in cities with a large number of cyclists. Hence, if there is a car tire shop in the neighborhood, you can always check with the management to see if they can accept your used bike tires.
4. Mail-in Programs
If you can’t find any ideal places in your locality to drop off your bike tires and tubes, you can still mail them to companies that will reuse them. Depending on your area of residence, the best companies to mail to may vary and simple research should give you a wide range of options.
Q: What Can You Do with Old Bike Tires?
A: Old tires have a lot of uses, including:
● They can be transformed into fashion accessories, including belts and wallets.
● They can be used as tire liners. In this case, you will cut off the bead and the side casing, and then take what is left – essentially, the tread – and put it inside your new tire.
● Shelving, where you cut open the tires and tubes, and then tie them nicely in a net ideal for holding lighter things.
Q: Are Bicycle Inner Tubes Recyclable?
A: Yes, bike inner tubes can be recycled. However, their recycling often involves complicated processes, considering that they are made of more than one compound – that is, rubber and several additives. For this reason, you cannot just place the inner tubes in the recycling bin available at the curb. Instead, you will need to connect with recyclers that specifically indicate that they facilitate tube recycling.
Globo Surf Overview
No matter how careful you are, avoiding potholes, shattered glasses, and routes that might have thorns, your tires will eventually spring a leak. This could be the catastrophic blowout mid-ride or numerous morning flats that signal the death of your inner tube.
Replacing your tubes and tires means having unusable components in your home. To protect the environment, you must keep the tires and tubes from being thrown away as landfill waste. Instead, focus your attention on bicycle tire recycling. In this article, we have outlined some of the best ways to reuse and recycle bike tubes and tires.