Trek Bikes have slashed the amount of single-use plastic in bike packaging, removing an incredible 433,600 lbs of plastic waste from their supply chain. A custom approach, taking each bike model individually, has allowed Trek to make a massive step toward their goal of plastic-free packaging by 2024.
Trek Cut Down on Plastic Packaging for Bikes
I’m not sure what’s more astounding; the fact that they’ve managed to cut down plastic use by that much, or the fact that they were having to use that much in the first place! Trek are still some way off achieving Cannondale’s industry-leading plastic-free 100% recyclable packaging. But, this is an excellent step in the right direction, and we hope to see more bicycle and component manufacturers follow suit.
Trek have taken a custom approach to reducing plastic packaging, tailoring the amount of plastic removed depending on model specifications, the products’ material composition, and how much assembly was required after the product left their warehouse.
Because of this, some bikes saw a reduction of seven plastic parts per box while others bid farewell to 42. Trek’s aftermarket products, which are smaller and generally require less packaging, were able to shed a plastic bag or zip tie here or there.
Here’s a breakdown of the reduction of plastic packaging on a model by model basis:
- 246,000 lbs. removed from Marlin, Verve, and other entry-level adult bikes
- 58,000 lbs. removed from kid’s bikes (including Kickster, Precaliber)
- 40,000 lbs. removed from Madone, Supercaliber, and other high-level adult bikes
- 12,600 lbs. removed from Electra Townie 7 and 9
- 65,400 lbs. removed from electric bikes: Rail, Powerfly, Allant, and Electra Townie Go!
How exactly did Trek go about it?
They asked: what are the biggest pieces of plastic or foam? What purpose do they serve? Can cardboard or paper do the same thing? Following that process, they were able to eliminate the following pieces from most bike boxes:
- Down tube foam and plastic wrap
- Top tube foam and plastic wrap
- Seat tube foam and plastic wrap
- Head tube foam and plastic wrap
- Crank arm foam wraps
- Chainstay bubble wrap
Trek acknowledged that some types of plastic packaging are harder to replace with a suitable recyclable counterpart. In some instances, they opted for a plastic option that’s easier to recycle or up-cycle. Some examples include plastic wraps for smaller components, which they replaced with more durable Ziploc-style bags, and zip ties. In some cases, nylon string was the replacement, something that can serve many a useful purpose long after delivery of the bike.