Trek Bicycle has started a carbon fibre recycling programme at its US manufacturing facility.
Trek’s first full carbon frames were the 5500 and 5200 in 1992 but the material has long been thought to be impossible to fully recycle, with waste instead being sent to landfill.
But, through a partnership with Materials Innovation Technologies, Trek has successfully completed a three month trial period to determine the viability of adopting the process as part of the manufacturing process in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
“One of the company’s major initiatives is that we will work to drive more eco-friendly processes into everything that we do,” said Trek senior composites manufacturing engineer James Colegrove.
“Carbon fibre recycling holds massive potential not just for Trek, but the entire industry.”
Throughout the manufacturing process, Trek collects excess trimmings, non-compliant molded parts and combines it with select reclaimed warranty frames to send to MIT’s South Carolina facility to begin the reclamation process, with between 1,590-2,040kg of scrap already being sent each month.
Reclaimed carbon fibre is currently being used in reinforced thermoplastic applications while research and development is ongoing for use in automotive, aerospace, medical, and recreational applications.
“Throughout the trial period we worked with Trek to show them how beneficial carbon recycling can be to their overall business practices,” added MIT president and CEO Jim Stike.
“Working with a world leader like Trek to help them become the first bicycle company to begin recycling carbon fibre is very exciting for us.”