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Trek gives green light to full-scale carbon fibre recycling


Trek Bicycle has confirmed that it has instituted a full-scale carbon recycling program at its Waterloo, Wisconsin-based US manufacturing facility, following a series of carbon recycling trials in 2011. The company is now recycling all scrap carbon fibre; the material primarily used in its US domestic production. A reported 70,000lbs, or 32 metric tonnes, of recyclable carbon has already been generated and saved from landfill.

Trek notes that the material it introduced to the cycling world and has pioneered the usage of since 1992 is revered for its strength and weight properties but has long been believed nearly impossible to recycle.

Through a partnership with Materials Innovation Technologies (MIT LLC) and its wholly owned subsidiary MIT-RCF, a South Carolina carbon reclamation facility that is revolutionizing carbon recycling processes, Trek completed a 3 month trial to determine the viability of adopting carbon fibre recycling as an official part of the manufacturing process.

“Throughout the trial period we worked with Trek to show them how beneficial carbon recycling can be to their overall business practices,” said MIT’s 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.”

Throughout the manufacturing process, Trek collects excess trimmings, non-compliant moulded parts and combines it with select reclaimed warranty frames to send to MIT’s South Carolina facility to begin their reclamation process. 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.


“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.”