Trek Bicycle has instituted a full-scale carbon recycling program at its Waterloo, WI-based US manufacturing facility and is now recycling all scrap carbon fiber; the material primarily used in its domestic production. The material that Trek 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 three month trial period to determine the viability of adopting the step 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 fiber is very exciting for us.”
Throughout the manufacturing process, Trek collects excess trimmings, non-compliant molded parts and combines it with select reclaimed warranty frames to send to MIT’s South Carolina facility to begin their reclamation process. Reclaimed carbon fiber 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 fiber recycling holds massive potential not just for Trek, but the entire industry.”