Trek recycles 70,000 lb of carbon fiber in first year

Since April 2011, Trek Bicycle has recycled more than 70,000 lb of carbon fiber from its domestic manufacturing facility in Wisconsin; recycler Materials Innovation Technologies has processed the material and repurposed it for other applications.

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Trek Bicycle (Waterloo, Wis., USA) reported on April 22 that one year after piloting the bike industry’s first carbon fiber recycling program, the company, in partnership with Materials Innovation Technologies (MIT, Fletcher, N.C., USA) has recycled more than 70,000 lb/31.7 metric tons of carbon fiber from its domestic manufacturing facility in Waterloo.

Since April of 2011, all manufacturing scraps, non-compliant frame components and select reclaimed warranty frames have undergone processing at MIT's South Carolina facility for repurposing in reinforced thermoplastic applications, including aerospace, automotive, medical and recreational applications.

“We’re really proud of the results that we have had in just one year,” says Trek’s senior composites manufacturing engineer Jim Colegrove. “Now that carbon has become such a commonly used material in cycling, it’s important for all brands to consider the entire life cycle of a product.”

Trek began manufacturing its OCLV-carbon fiber frames in 1992 and has since reportedly grown into a world leader in carbon fiber technology, developing road and mountain bike frames from the material. The recycling program closes the loop on the life cycle of one of modern engineering’s most ubiquitous and complex materials.

The carbon fiber recycling program is one of many sustainable efforts Trek has embarked on including, but not limited to, recycled aftermarket product packaging for the Bontrager brand, sourcing frames and components from neighboring factories to reduce shipping emissions, and converting its Waterloo facility entirely to wind power.