Carbon Bicycle Recycling Pioneer Predicts Robust Market for Repurposed Materials

Recycling carbon fiber may be complicated but Trek Bicycle decided that keeping this valuable material out of landfills was the right thing to do regardless. This past spring the company, which designs and manufactures bicycles, launched an ambitious full-scale carbon fiber recycling program at its Waterloo, Wis.-based manufacturing facility.

Trek’s proprietary OCLV (optimum compaction, low void) carbon material, revered by the cycling world for its strength and ultra light-weight properties, has long been considered nearly impossible to recycle. However, this thought only serves to make Trek’s goal to become “zero landfill” more impressive. Until recently, the only course for a carbon fiber bike frame at the end of its lifecycle was to languish in a landfill, becoming an exceedingly long-term environmental burden. Not to mention that in its manufacturing processes and returned product, Trek already sends between 3,500 and 4,500 pounds of carbon composites to the recycling facility each month. With its zero landfill goal, the company projects to divert up to 54,000 pounds of carbon from the landfill to repurpose each year.

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