8 Environmental Initiatives in the Bike Industry: SRAM’s Fiber Recycling Patent, Sustainable Production, & More

by | May 31, 2021

The cycling industry gets away with some pretty wasteful practices, which it often waves away under the pretense of “it’s bikes, so it’s green.” The reality is that buying less, repairing and reusing your things, and riding more locally are the best things for the earth; however, we applaud the brands that are trying to reduce their impacts on the environment too. The perfect is the enemy of the good, so it’s great to see people working towards better.

2021 has seen some great new green initiatives with Endura reaching their one million tree planting goal, Trash Free Trails revealing they have cleaned 2,500km of trails and Five Ten’s new Freerider shoes made from recycled ocean waste. Let’s take a look at the recent announcements that move the industry forward in reducing its impact on the environment.


SRAM’s Fiber Recycling Patent

SRAM is looking to secure a patent for a new technique centered around recycling carbon fibers.

The patent was filed by SRAM on September 14 2020 with a publication date of March this year and while it has not been granted yet it does offer an interesting idea for SRAM to drastically reduce waste made by carbon fiber manufacturing.

SRAM’s patent describes this as “a method for preparing a fiber-containing molding compound includes the acts of a) providing a composite material which includes a first resin and fibers impregnated with the first resin, and b) mixing the composite material with a treatment medium which includes a diluent to form a mixture. The fiber-containing molding compound thus prepared has an adjustable fiber content.” From what we understand this is SRAM’s idea that it wants to create a new carbon fiber molding compound that isn’t fixed to a predetermined level of fiber content, this means it can potentially adjust the strength or flexibility properties of the new material.

In the patent, SRAM points out that in the manufacturing of carbon fiber parts there is often a large amount of still usable material that goes to waste and this can become costly for manufacturers as some landfill services will charge a premium for carbon waste. It is noted that while the reusing of carbon fiber material is environmentally friendly it could also lower the production cost for carbon fiber products.

SRAM notes in its patent that recycling carbon fiber scraps is not new and while there are various other US patents for this issue it has found a new way of making a more usable final product from the carbon waste. SRAM claims that in other methods: “resin content in the products manufactured thereby is limited by the resin content in the prereg waste or the prereg scraps, and thus cannot be adjusted according to specific requirements of the products. Therefore it is desirable to provide a method for manufacturing a product from the prereg waste or the prereg scraps, so that the resin content in the product manufactured thereby is adjustable.”

You can view the full patent application here.


Apidura Expands Repair Programme
Apidura has extended its repairs programme with 18 partner stores now offering the free in-store service.

The Bikepacking brand believes that repairing its products is a central idea to their sustainability goals and now there are more ways to fix your gear if it should be damaged. The longer you can extend the life of a product the better its impact on the environment, this is why Apidura have sought to improve their repair service. Not only can riders send their kit directly to Apidura but there are now 18 stores offering a collection service.

Another benefit of the expanded services is that Apidura can work with the partner stores to consolidate the repairs into a smaller number of shipments, lowering the impact of sending products to and from their repair centers. The stores also and given Apidura’s repair guides and are encouraged to share these with customers so that riders can make their own repairs if they can.

bigquotes We know retailers are looking for new ways to engage with customers and find unexpected opportunities to create value and believe the In-store Repairs Programme is an excellent way to do just that. It’s a win-win for us as customers learn more about self-sufficiency and repairing their bikepacking gear and our retail partners benefit from increased exposure to customers. Tori Fahey, Co-Founder of Apidura

Products that riders needing repairs by Apidura do not need to be returned to the original store of purchase with any partner store open to accepting the repair programme.


French Government Launches Financial Incentive to Swap your Car for an eBike

France is set to offer owners of older cars the chance to scrap their vehicles in return for a €2500/$2975 grant to purchase an eBike.

This year Lawmakers in France’s National Assembly have passed a preliminary vote on the incentive as an amendment to a Climate Bill that aims to reduce emission from 1990 levels by 40% in 2030.

If the measure passes through the French parliament it will make France the first county to offer the ability to trade in an old vehicle for an eBike.


Selle Italia Eyes Shift to Sustainable Production
We previously reported about Selle Italia’s sustainable saddle but now the Italian brand is eyeing a 40% growth with a shift to a new production process.

Over the next few years, Selle Italia is expecting a 40% growth as it expands the sustainable production process named Green-Tech. Developed by it Chairman Giuseppe Bigolin, this form of manufacturing is focused on the central idea of creating environmentally friendly products that can be made quickly for low prices. The result of this process can already be seen with its Model X Green Superflow saddle featuring an eco-friendly construction with a price of just $50.

Selle Italia expectation from using Green-Tech is an increase in turnover of 40% with a 50% rise in the volume of production. Bike.eu reported Giuseppe Bigolin, Chairman of Selle Italia said: “considering the difficulties that many bike manufacturers can expect to encounter during 2021 in procuring accessories from Asian markets, returning to an entirely Italian supply chain will be the key to success in the coming years.”


Thule Sets Sustainability Goals
Thule has published its sustainability numbers for 2020 with a 46% reduction in greenhouse gases from its production sites compared to 2019.

After announcing new sustainability targets last year, Thule has published some of the data it collected as it tried to hit the new goals in 2020. Alongside the reduction in greenhouse gases, Thule also ran its manufacturing sites and offices on 100% renewable electricity.

bigquotes As a company, we have a long-term dependency on our employees, customers and consumers being able to enjoy an active life in the great outdoors. In October 2020, Thule Group’s Board of Directors resolved on new sustainability goals in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and we signed to commit the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a global standard for climate goals originating from the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase in the planet’s average temperature to 1.5°C.

Our focus areas within climate and environment are based on a life-cycle concept: from how we design, manufacture and distribute our products to how the products are used and finally cared for, so that their components and materials can be reused and recycled in the best possible way.

Thule


4iiii Launches Crank Arm Recycling Program

4iiii has announced a new buyback program for left hand Shimano crank arms.

For anyone upgrading to a crank power meter setup or with specific left crank arms lying around can send them to 4iiii for up to $45 in cash. Once a crank arm is received 4iiii will install them with a power meter and sell them as a ‘reCYCLED’ model. The refurbished cranks will sell with a 20% discount on a brand new model.

bigquotes We’re very excited to introduce this new initiative. Everyone benefits from a circular economy where we reduce waste, reuse products and preserve resources in an effort to protect our environment. 4iiii President Phil White

Riders can also opt to donate the cash for their crank arms to a cycling charity or one of their own choosing. 4iiii is currently partnered with Trips4Kids in the US and TwoWheelView in Canada. These two charities work to provide development programs, trips and bikes to underprivileged kids.

At the moment 4iiii is only offering this service in North America but there are future plans to expand it globally.


Specialized Brings its Battery Recycling to the UK
Specialized has announced it will be bringing its battery recycling program to the UK after its launch in North America.

In March we reported Specialized’s new partnership with a co-founder of Tesla, now it is planning to offer UK eMTB riders a chance to recycle their batteries.

For its UK recycling solution Specialized has partnered with Ecolamp Recycling Solutions to recycle 100% of all the batteries they receive with none going to landfill. While the North American program will be rolled out by the end of this year, Specialized expects to have a bigger rollout of this service in other countries by 2022.


Shred Goggles Launches a New Range made from Recycled Bottles
Goggle brand Shred has launched the BigShow line with a strap made from recycled plastic bottles.

The new range of goggles from Shred will feature a strap made from 84% recycled material. Shred estimate that for every 100 goggles made they will be reusing material from 170 plastic bottles.

bigquotes After having completely eliminated plastic from our packaging, we decided to take it another step further by pioneering an innovation we are incredibly proud of.

Inspired by what leading clothing and outerwear brands have done for years in their space, we thought to show that other categories can do their part as well, and inspire others to do the same.

Shred Co-founder, Chairman, and two-time Olympic Champ Ted Ligety

bigquotes Not easy for a small and independent eyewear and protection brand, but that’s what makes this achievement even more special for us.

After being the first goggle brand to remove all plastic components from goggles’ packaging already in 2020, we challenged ourselves to raise the bar again. We know we won’t be changing the world one goggle at a time, but we want to bring awareness to the issue of single-use plastic and inspire change.

Shred Co-founder and CEO, Carlo Salmini

Shred is also planning to remove all plastic from the packaging of its helmets, protection and other products.


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