Schwalbe inner tube recycling as a prime example of circular economy

Already available in five European countries, cyclists can hand in their old bicycle inner tubes to their specialist dealer instead of simply throwing them away. Tyre manufacturer Schwalbe recycles the old inner tubes and utilises the material to produce new ones. This saves large amounts of energy; every new Schwalbe inner tube already contains 20% recycled content.
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Every new Schwalbe inner tube already contains 20% recycled content.

Since the launch of the program in 2015, the German family-owned company has already saved more than six million tubes from ending up in the landfill with its tube recycling program and wants to achieve much more.

With its recycling efforts, Schwalbe pursues the goal of closing the product cycle. Old, used inner tubes should no longer be thrown away, but should be part of the production of new inner tubes and thus close the cycle.

Seven years of inner tube recycling

The program was launched in Germany in 2015 after some preparation time. The entry hurdle for all dealers was deliberately low: Dealers can simply package the old inner tubes that cyclists hand in and send them to Schwalbe – the company pays the postage costs. This applies to bicycle inner tubes of all brands.

The inner tubes are collected at the Schwalbe warehouse in Germany and shipped in a container to the production facility in Indonesia. There, the company recycles the material in its own recycling yard. After deducting all transport routes, Schwalbe recycling saves a total of 80% energy compared to the production of new butyl.

Recycling already realised in five countries

After piloting the project in Germany, Schwalbe has gradually grown the system over the years- first in Belgium and the Netherlands, then in the UK and finally in Switzerland in 2021. Other countries are to follow. Last year, they were also able to collect the largest number of tubes to date – it was more than one million. The continuous growth is to be continued – in the next few years, the recycling program will be extended to other European countries and grown on a global scale with entry into North America to be able to recycle even more inner tubes and thus raw materials. With larger goals in mind, Schwalbe is already planning the next big step and wants to apply the concept to bicycle tyres as well. A pilot project for this has already been running for a few months.

It’s easy to take part

Every Schwalbe inner tube is 100% recyclable. The most important thing for all cyclists: It’s easy to take part. Simply turn in your old inner tube free of charge, support the recycling program and do something good: schwalbe.com/en/recycling

This article is sponsored by Schwalbe.