How to responsibly recycle bike packaging

Plastic-free. 100% recyclable.

Using recycled- and recyclable-fiber materials, Trek and Bontrager are creating a circular lifecycle for our product packaging, where retailers and riders will be able to recycle their discarded bike packaging with ease. This is the next step to realizing our goal of only using packaging that is free from all plastics and is 100% recyclable.

Bike packaging is essential for keeping bikes in factory-fresh condition for the long trip from manufacturing to bike shop. But this essential packaging—most of which is extracted from the earth, processed for our own needs, and then discarded in landfills after use—presents a massive opportunity as we move all of our packaging to materials that are 100% recyclable.

The cradle-to-grave journey of plastic packaging is one we’re committed to eliminating by introducing more recyclable materials and providing support on how to best process the packaging after use.

This guide will show you how to properly and responsibly dispose of this excess as we journey toward zero-landfill product packaging.

How to properly dispose of bike packaging

Simplifying the process of recyling our packaging is part of the reason we're committed to discontinuing our use of plastics. But in the meantime, it’s important to mitigate the effects of bike packaging on our landfills by understanding what can be recycled and what can’t. Be sure to check in with your local municipalities to see what services are available.

Two rules for responsible recycling

When in doubt, throw it out
While it seems counterintuitive to our goal, wishful recycling of non-recyclables has the opposite effect of what is intended. The addition of a few non-recyclable materials in a load of recycling can cause the entirety to be landfilled to prevent contamination from chemical compositions and the addition of dyes or adhesives.

Landfill items smaller than a credit card
Items smaller than a credit card should be sent to a landfill because they’re too small to undergo machine processing and often fall through wire containers or jam machinery at recycling facilities.

What to recycle from a Trek bike box

Below you'll find a cross-section of a newly packaged Marlin, with all of its internal pieces identified. Use this as a guide for processing your bike shipments.
Cardboard and paper are optimized to go into zero-sort recycling, as is the full bike box (as long as you remove the staples and packing tape from the box).

The yellow paper sheets have a polypropylene laminate on one side, but they are still easily recyclable as long as your local recycling plant has the proper pulp processing equipment. You can find out if they do with a quick internet search or phone call.

What to landfill from a Trek bike box (for now)

Polypropylene (PP)
Front-wheel rotor protector, front wheel axle cap, rear derailleur protector PP products are becoming more widely accepted at municipal recycling facilities, so please be sure to check with your local recycling facilities before throwing PP components into the trash.

Zip-ties, fork axle protector, white rope
Nylon is recyclable in select municipalities, but the relative size of the nylon products in our packaging makes them exceedingly difficult to process. Throwing these out is your most likely option.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Polyethylene-bags, bubble wrap, and white foam
LDPE is recyclable in select municipalities, but it’s hard to process due to size. These may also most likely be thrown away.

Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA)
Dark gray/black foam
The majority of current recycling municipalities do not recycle EVA plastics, and there are currently very few companies that can process and recycle them. It’s best to landfill or reuse these items.

Rubber bands
Rubber is not accepted at municipal recycling facilities, but it’s easily upcycled!