Bike Tube Upcycling

Project Size: Small, <$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $800

Letter of Intent:

Entity: ASUW Bike Shop

Project Background: The ASUW Bike Shop is a student run, full repair bicycle resource for UW students, staff and faculty. Through its affordable services the shop incentivizes the UW community to choose biking as a sustainable alternative to other modes of transportation. Relative to cars, trains, planes or even buses, bikes are the cleanest mode of transportation. While the Bike Shop is committed to climate resilience efforts by promoting sustainable transportation, the manufacturing of bikes, shipment of inventory, and short life span of tubes generates GHG emissions. The Bike Shop continuously seeks ways to support the campus cycling community’s commitment to climate response. 

Problem Identified/Sustainable Impact: Every year the Bike Shop generates between 150 to 250 pounds of tube waste. This is equal to roughly 50 to 60 pounds of waste per quarter. Recycling centers in proximity accept used bike tires, not used tubes. Prior to this year the Bike Shop would throw 150 to 250 pounds of bike tubes in the landfill every year. Most bike tubes are made from butyl rubber, a synthetic rubber that is petroleum based. Bike tubes contribute to the embodied carbon of a bike which refers to the carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacturing, transportation and building process. Upcycling or recycling rubber can help save energy and is a small action to reduce the carbon footprint of bikes. Specifically, by upcycling tubes, the Bike Shop will divert waste created through its operations. 

Solution Requested: Alchemy Goods is an apparel company that makes backpacks, messenger bags, purses, belts, wallets and travel kits from upcycled bike tubes. It sources raw materials from bike retailers across the US. All of its consumer goods are made right here in West Seattle. The mission of Alchemy Goods is to provide goods for eco-friendly people. 

This Fall Quarter (2019) the Bike Shop began dropping off used tubes at Pham Sewing, the sole sewing facility for Alchemy products. Doing so gives these bike tubes a second life. Upcycling tubes takes place once a quarter and requires a U-Car rental. U-CAR rentals charge per hour, per mile. The drop off center is 15 miles away and the process takes approximately two hours. The cost per drop off is about $20 per quarter, excluding the cost of the Bike Shop Managers time. The Bike Shop is looking to partner with the UW Electrical Bicycle Mail Delivery Service to pick up and drop off used tubes at UPS twice a quarter. A request for $800 would fund this tube upcycling project for 5-7 years depending on the amount of tube waste generated each quarter. If this project is approved, the Bike Shop is committed to the Campus Sustainability Funds project criteria which are: sustainable impact, leadership, student involvement, education, outreach, behavior change, feasibility and accountability. 

Leadership/Student Involvement/Education/Outreach: The tube upcycling project will be directly managed by the Business Manager of the ASUW Bike Shop. The Manager will be responsible for packaging the tubes and coordinating routine pickup times with UW’s E-Bike delivery service. In addition, they will regularly promote this upcycling program through campus events put on by the Bike Shop and its partners. Throughout the year the Bike Shop supports campus events with the mobile maintenance trailer and will advertise and accept donations on site. The Business Manager will keep an inventory of how many bins of tube waste are diverted, reporting these numbers to the community. The Bike Shop is changing its behavior of throwing away tubes by taking this action. They will advertise the acceptance of tube donations via the shop’s website and social media accounts. 

Feasibility and Accountability: This project will require coordination with successive Bike Shop Managers and UW Mailing Services. The current Managers will explain and pass down this project to the next Shop Managers in transition documents and meetings. 

Funding/Execution Timeline: 

April: Coordinate with E-Bike Mailing Delivery Services

June: Advertise Used Bike Tube Upcycling Program to the Public, advertise/accept used tubes in the Shop *if shop is open due to COVID-19

Summer Operations (Mid June): First pick up/drop off with E-Bike Mailing Services

Mid August: Second pickup/drop off with E-Bike Mailing Services *if the shop is open

Example of Pickup Schedule for FY21:

Summer Quarter: Pick Up 1- July 22nd, last day of A-term 

Pick Up 2- August 21st, last day of B-term 

Fall Quarter: Pick Up 1- November 2nd (5th week of Fall Operations) 

Pick Up 2- December 14th, first day of Finals Week 

Winter Quarter: Pick Up 1- February 1st, (5th week of Winter Operations) 

Pick Up 2- March 15th, first day of Finals Week 

Spring Quarter: Pick Up 1- May 3rd (5th week of Spring Operations) 

Pick Up 2- June 7th, first day of Finals Week 

Cost: Cost per UPS shipment (~25 pounds of bike tubes) = $18.45 Annual Shipment Cost (assuming 8 shipments/year)= $18.45*8= $147.6

Total Shipment Cost (5 year project) = $147.6 * 5 = $738 

The Bike Shop will reuse boxes from QBP packages to ship tubes in. 

Resources

1. E-Bike Partnership: 

The Program Supervisor of Mailing Services was onboard with the E-Bike partnership when it was discussed this Fall. For outgoing mail, the Bike Shop will need to fill out the required form which is provided by the Student Activities Office (SAO). The E-Bikes would pick up the tubes at the Bike Shop and deliver them to Mailing Services to be shipped by UPS. This project would require the E-Bikes to transport the tubes to Mailing Services once or twice a quarter. I was not able to find University UPS rates but was told each shipment would cost less than $20 (refer to cost estimate above). 

Sources: 

Link to one life cycle assessment of a bike: http://www.designlife-cycle.com/bicycle *Relative to the frame, the embodied carbon of bike tubes is much lower.

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Lisa Jensen