In the early '90s, Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle pioneered the use of carbon fiber in bike frames. The material, though much admired for its strength and weight, is generally understood to be impossible to recycle. Fast forward a couple decades, and the cycling company has launched a full-scale carbon recycling program for all of the scrap carbon fiber generated at its U.S. facilities.
"It is still very difficult to recycle carbon fiber," said Trek spokesman Eric Bjorling. "Different fiber types, different resin types, varying part size, shape, and thickness, are just some of the challenges that complicate recycling efforts. Collection, sorting, transportation, reclamation, reuse and the costs associated with each of these also play into the complication of recycling this material."
The recycling initiative was made possible through a pilot project with Materials Innovation Technologies (MIT LLC), a South Carolina-based carbon recycling company. The companies said that the program will keep up to 54,000 pounds of carbon fiber out of landfills every year. Nice work.
Photo: Trek Bicycle