Boulder Bike Shop Secures Grant to Recycle Thousands of Tires

Community Cycles, a bicycle co-op based in Boulder, Colorado has come up with a way to recycle used tires.
Photo courtesy of Community Cycles

Tires are expensive components and potentially need replacing a few times per year depending on how often one rides. The only thing that hurts more than plunking another $80 on another piece of rubber is sending the old one to the waste bin.

Community Cycles, a bicycle co-op based in Boulder, Colorado is tired of sending tires to waste facilities.

“Recycling is kind of our thing,” said shop director Dax Burgos.

The shop receives countless donations every week from complete bikes, to tires, and other components. Community Cycles refurbishes and sells the used bikes and gear, and the money from sales keeps their operations going. Tires, even if they appear to be in great shape, are often the one component that can’t be resold or reused. People don’t seem interested in buying used tires or tubes, or the unworn tires have been tucked away in a garage too long and are dry rotting.

“We’re probably throwing away 100 tires per week,” said Burgos. With a new grant from the City of Boulder’s Climate Initiatives department, Community Cycles is on its way to covering about a third of their tire recycling costs for the year.

Community Cycles was granted $1,000 and Burgos estimates the money will last the shop 3-4 months. The shop has pledged to cover the costs for the rest of the year. Now, once a week, Burgos will load up a van with recently donated and ill-fated tires and drive them down the road to Ecocycle, a specialty recycling facility in Boulder.

Ecocycle said that normally they charge $3 per vehicle entry and 50 cents per tube or tire for recycling. Typically, the rubber is ground up and used for road base.

Burgos hopes that they’ll be able to attain another grant when the $1,000 is up and the initiative will push the conversation on recycling tires.

Unlike car tire shops where users are charged a recycling fee for the old tires during installation, many cyclists install new tires themselves at home and recycling depends on finding a specialty recycling facility like Ecocycle.

“I really hope this is something that will inspire other bike shops to look for other avenues or maybe the industry can come together and add that 50 cent charge to every single tire we sell until it suddenly becomes a norm, as it is with the automotive industry,” said Burgos.