Most bike shop owners agree with the concept of recycling tyres and tubes, but unfortunately it has been quite difficult to do, until now.
That’s because recycling tyres is an industrial scale process and the key company who does this work in Australia, Tyrecycle, will only accept large deliveries of used bicycle tyres and tubes.
Tyrecycle turns the tyres and tubes into crumbs that can be used for wide range of recycled products ranging from playground and athletic track surfaces through to building insulation. Their operations are overseen by Tyre Stewardship Australia an industry collaborative organisation that has input from government and the research sector.
Charlie Woolley was until recently working in the health care industry. But he’s a keen cyclist who didn’t want to throw his used tyres and tubes into the regular rubbish.
He asked around at his local bike shops and discovered that there was no bicycle tyre recycling service available, so decided to set one up himself.
Charlie provides participating bike shops with a wooden crate, that he custom builds from recycled timber to a size that fit’s each shop’s designated space. He’ll typically visit each bike shop to collect their tyres every four to six weeks.
Charlie also provides retailers with a brochure to show staff and customers how the system works and stickers with QR codes.
Unfortunately, not only does Tyrecycle not pay for the used tyres they receive, but they charge a fee, so in order to make his service sustainable, Charlie charges retailers $2 per tyre and 50 cents per tube that they recycle.
Most bike shops pass these fees onto their customers. Some give the customers the option of recycling or not and other shops build the fee into their pricing structure for replacing tyres and tubes.
It appears that there is enough demand from consumers and retailers that this fee structure is not an obstacle to success. Having only started in March 2019, Charlie has recently reached a scale where this has become his full time business.
Because both Charlie and the main processing plant of Tyrecycle are based in Melbourne, right now he can only offer his service to Melbourne based bike shops. But this may change in future if he can reach the required scale.