Not All Heros Wear Capes, Schwalbe Recycles 20,000 Tires from Bike Shop Cellar!

Not All Heros Wear Capes, Schwalbe Recycles 20,000 Tires from Bike Shop Cellar!
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In another step towards their “cradle to cradle” philosophy, German tire giant, Schwalbe Tires has developed the pilot Schwalbe Recycling System for used bicycle tires. And, independent bike dealer, Ingo Ruhland of Radl Ruhland, couldn’t be happier.

You see, Ruhland has been collecting used tires in a former beer cellar for the last 23 years. That’s a long time to be saving tires… long enough to have collected 20,000 tires to be exact.

Not All Heros Wear Capes, Schwalbe Recycles 20,000 Tires from Bike Shop Cellar!

His hopes were that one day, a tire company would eventually step up and actually recycle the tires as opposed to incinerate them.

Schwalbe Recycling Radl Ruhland
Photo c. Schwalbe Tires

His dreams came true when Schwalbe Tires agreed to feed his used tire collection to their recycling program, aptly named the Schwalbe Recycling System. Ruland said, “I always hoped that one day some company in the tire industry would manage to offer real recycling. Now that has worked – a big thanks to Schwalbe.”

Schwalbe Recycling Tires guy in truck
A lot of work! The 20,000 tires had to be moved from a former beer cellar and into a truck container.

When Ruland heard about Schwalbe’s tire recycling program over the Summer of 2022, he was elated. He said, “I rejoiced because this was exactly the information I had been waiting for… for 23 years”. He also says the “tires are not trash, they are recyclables. And we should be more concerned in all areas to recycle such material instead of always mining new raw material”.

Schwalbe Recycling Tires guy holding old tires

Schwalbe Recycling Tires on cart

The former beer cellar is empty now or “finally cleaned up”, as Ruhland says. In the future, the used tires that gather up at his shop, will end up in the Schwalbe Recycling System recycling box and will be picked up regularly.

From the Press Release:

Tire recycling as an ecological milestone

“Schwalbe is the first bicycle tire manufacturer in the world to take responsibility and take back and recycle used bicycle tires – turning used tires into new ones. And without any waste. Until now, used tires were incinerated, the raw materials were lost, and climate-damaging CO2 was emitted. Schwalbe, together with its project partners Pyrum Innovations and the Technical University of Cologne (TH Köln), has reached an ecological milestone with tire recycling. The recycling process saves 80% CO2 emissions”.

Schwalbe began the pilot phase in January 2022 with around 50 dealers, and by the end of November has reached more than 1300. And the numbers are growing every day.

Here’s how Schwalbe’s Recycling System works:

  1. Drop off your used tires at a participating dealer.
  2. Transports the full recycling box to their recycling partner, Pyrum Innovations.
  3. Shredding of used tires to rubber granulate, steel, fabric
  4. Pyrum Thermolisys: Rubber granulate is converted into secondary raw materials (in a pyrolysis oven at 700 degrees celsius under oxygen exclusion
    – Process gas: supplies the complete plant with electricity.
    – Pyrolysis oil: Used in the chemical industry as a substitute for crude oil
    – Pyrolysis coke: (rCB) goes to step 5
  5. Recycled into new Schwalbe products