Picture: Velorim

Outright ban on bicycle tyre disposal in landfill takes significant step forward

A total ban on the disposal of bicycle tyres and inner tubes in landfill has taken a significant step forward following a key summit last month.

On Thursday, March 30, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) hosted representation from The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme. 

At the meeting Velorim, who runs the scheme on behalf of the cycle trade, reported that it now has national coverage of collection points. This fulfilled a longstanding commitment to report to DEFRA once the scheme was ready to accommodate the substantial increase in scrap that an outright ban would create. 

Dave Hawthorn, chairman of Velorim, said: “This is a momentous day for the cycle trade with England and Wales looking set to be the first place in the world to introduce environmental controls on bicycle tyres and inner tubes that would ban them from landfill and limit overseas disposal.”       

Discussion continued on the consultation process required to move towards introducing controls on the disposal of bicycle tyres. 

DEFRA’s Natalie Way, from the Environmental Quality Directorate, said: “DEFRA is committed to reducing the amount of all waste types entering landfill, including bicycle tyres and inner tubes.

Natalie Way of DEFRA with Dave Hawthorn chairman of Velorim

“We were pleased to meet with a representative of the National Bicycle Tyre Recycling Scheme to discuss their important work developing recycling options for waste tyres. Defra remains committed to consult on measures that move end of life products higher up the waste hierarchy. 

“The 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy identified bicycle tyres as a priority area for such a review.”

It has been illegal to dispose of automotive and agricultural tyres in UK landfill since the passing of the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002, though bicycle tyres were expressly excluded despite being chemically near identical.  

The National Bicycle Tyre Recycling scheme, launched in 2020, diverts bike tyres and inner tubes from landfill converting them into a range of useful outcomes including devulcanized rubber that can be used to make new products.

The scheme is run in partnership with a national network of collection points, or Velorim Centres, mainly bike shops.

Recently, Velorim has commissioned its own reprocessing plant in the North East, another significant step forward.  

Hawthorn added: “Whilst we respect that it will take time for DEFRA to go through its consultation process, we are not expecting objections to be raised now that the recycling scheme is operational nationwide. Particularly as the burden of cost lies on the consumer, not the trade. 

“We stand ready to accommodate what we anticipate being a twenty-fold increase in scrap volumes once legislation changes and the public are made aware.”  

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