Is rCB the new buzz word for tyres?
Within the last year, we have seen several brands emerge with advancing changes in tyre technology, the most exciting of these changes comes from Schwalbe who have partnered with recycling technology company Pyrum Innovations to build a recycling process at a dealership level. This partnership also extends to the recycling of bicycle inner tubes, resulting in a tube that takes only one-fifth of the energy to produce when compared to the same amount of new butyl. With Schwalbe tyre collection partners accepting tyres and tubes of all brands they are really pioneering the way forward. Schwalbe says 400,000 tyres have already been recycled under the scheme. after years of R&D and have released a taster of what was in the pipeline at EuroBike 2022, Schwalbe has just brought to market their first tyre made from 70% recycled carbon black (rCB), a take on the classic Schwalbe Marathon, the release saw the introduction of the Schwalbe The Green Marathon, with claims of being 98% pollution-free. This alone is a huge leap forward for the cycling industry and I was pleasantly surprised to find with a quick Google that the tyre was readily available in New Zealand (which is uncommon for new releases) and was also reasonably priced and no more expensive than its non-recycled cousin. As someone who has watched the industry continue to evolve, and continue to bring shiny new things to market it is refreshing to see a brand being so environmentally conscious about the future and designing technology that will allow us to live in a more sustainable way. I can only anticipate that Schwalbe will continue to grow their rCB range off the back of the success of The Green Marathon.
The likes of Maxxis have been seen starting to follow suit, albeit in a slightly different way. Maxxis has been working alongside the Formosa Chemical & Fibre Corporation a company responsible for producing ocean-recycled sustainable nylon cord for tyre manufacturers. This can be then used in creating the casing of the tyre. Interestingly enough a tyre recycling station was spied at the most recent Crankworx Whistler event, sparking interest within the industry as to if Maxxis was too going to begin producing tyres from recycled rubber, at this point media coverage on this topic is nonexistent.
There has been talk within NZ of whether bicycle tyres could be incorporated into the recently rolled out Tyre Stewardship Scheme that would see an import tax applied at the import/distribution level which is then offset when second-hand tyres are returned for recycling as part of the scheme. With this scheme still in its infancy it is probably far to early days to determine if this model would be supported by the cycling industry or if players such as Schwalbe or Maxxis will dominate the tyre recycling space moving forward. For the industry these steps are very positive and we commend any attempts to reduce tyres going directly to landfill!