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Waste Reduction and Recycling
Waste Reduction and Recycling
ZERO LANDFILL PACKAGING
Our packaging team is tasked with ensuring that a product reaches the rider in perfect condition while using the minimum amount of material with maximum recyclability. Past projects include a redesigned helmet box that achieved 15% less cardboard consumption. E-bikes, meanwhile, are a growing business, and our packaging team is involved in an effort to improve durability while also adding 15 additional bikes to each container, lowering the environmental impact of transportation.
We believe the future of local transportation looks more like an e-bike than a car. This is great for the long-term reduction of carbon emissions, but it also means that the unique components of e-bikes, such as batteries and drive units, will eventually need to be recycled. The recent growth in electric vehicles is on pace to overwhelm the established recycling infrastructure in many parts of the world. We are addressing this problem in the following ways:
- Our Turbo team in Switzerland has created state-of-the-art battery and charging systems to maximize performance and durability. Through our Mission Control app, we continue to learn how riders interact with our electric bicycles. We use this information to constantly improve performance, including battery life.
- Our ultimate goal is reuse. Specialized has partnered with Redwood Materials, a leader in lithium-ion battery recycling, to help recover materials we can bring back into our manufacturing and evaluate our design processes for better reuse or recyclability at end of life. We are focused on creating safe and effective pathways for Specialized e-bike batteries to be recycled, first in the US by the end of 2021. Together, we will then share these learnings for effective recycling across the broader bike and micro-mobility industries in the US and roll out to other markets starting in 2022.
- In keeping with our desire to develop collaborative solutions, we are working with our peers in the bike industry to establish recycling programs in regions where they don’t currently exist. In the US, we are working with the People for Bikes Sustainability Working Group to develop a battery recycling solution that is safe and easy for consumers and dealers.
- There are regional variations in battery recycling policies. Specialized recycles lithium-ion batteries according to local regulations where they exist, including Canada and several European countries.
Our apparel team at Specialized has been making incremental changes to minimize the company’s environmental footprint by designing with recycled fabrics, such as recycled polyester and recycled nylon. By using these recycled materials in our product line, we can help divert material that might otherwise end up in the ocean or landfills. In addition, recycled polyester and recycled nylon are less energy-intensive to produce than their virgin counterparts. Specialized apparel has included recycled fabrics for the past three seasons and plans to scale up recycled fibers in future seasons.
Using recycled fibers isn’t the only way to lessen our apparel’s environmental footprint. We’re also incorporating responsibly sourced down and more natural fibers, such as cotton and modal, into our product line. Another aspect we’re looking at is prolonging product lifespan—we do this in several ways, one of which is by researching and understanding the effect of various fibers and trims on garment lifespan.
CARBON FIBER REUSE
Aerospace, automotive, and sporting goods industries have relied on carbon fiber for its combination of strength and light weight. As more carbon products age out of use, there is an increasing need to develop ways to keep them out of landfills. We are happy to say that, in the US, if you return a Specialized carbon frame it will not go to a landfill.
We are currently developing products that reuse these fibers in hopes of expanding our carbon take-back program globally. The processed fibers are cut to lengths that make them unusable in bike frames, but they are suitable to blend with plastics as a reinforcing material, in the same way traditionally done with glass fibers.