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 marlin bike packaging plastic reduction

Trek Marlin packaging before (left) and after (right) the changes were introduced

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?

bike packagaing trek marlin before after

Packaging for the Trek Marlin before (left) and after (right) the changes were introduced

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 reduce plastic packaging waste

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. 

TrekBikes.com

12 comments

  1. Larry Falk on

    I was a professional bicycle mechanic in the mid-’90s and the amount of plastic has hardly changed. While I applaud Trek’s efforts, this is something we discussed among ourselves as we filled garbage can after garbage can with plastic foam stuff after new builds. Even then in a devastated US Rust Belt city with almost non-existent recycling, we recycled cardboard so it boggles my mind all of this has taken so long (& from a so called ‘environmental’ sport).

    Reply
    • None Given on

      Nothing more than a show. Where I am, well over 90% of the “recycle” containers go to the normal land fill…makes folks feel better to see two diesel trucks go around the block as opposed to one….

      Reply
  2. Alex on

    This is a great start! I would also want to see this information displayed in a way that shows how much is left to go. What % reduction did they accomplish?

    Other areas of improvement might include batching bikes, shipping 2-3 bikes per box (sorry supply chain), or making parts that could be sent back in bulk to Trek to be used again.

    Reply
  3. Save the world on

    It’s absolutely shocking how much plastic is used in bicycle products packaging.

    Clearly most companies dont give a rats (it’s all about the profit really, at the end of the day isn’t it. Them investors have to earn their profit so they can buy their yachts and lakeside holiday homes) and that’s why earth will become uninhabitable at some point. Until that time, well done Trek, this is a great move and hopefully will serve as an example for other bicycle industry companies.

    Now if only there were government mandates for this sort of thing the world might make some positive progress forward. An idea could be that world leaders from different countries could get together and come up with an agreement whereby each of their countries would create less waste and use less fossil fuels. That would be splendid! Until that happens (hint: it won’t) I will enjoy reading articles like this about responsible waste reduction.

    Now where was I, oh that’s right, great job Trek. I’m glad at least one company today has made an environmentally conscious decision and if I buy one of your bikes I’ll have less plastic to go in the landfil).

    Reply
  4. Rich1 on

    Not to be harsh..
    But try making your bikes in the US again… and reduce your carbon footprint even more…bring it home…

    Reply
  5. Bas Simons on

    great initiative. maybe we can also call out to the law makers who require a set of reflectors, pedals and all that crap to be part of EVERY new bike. for some bikes it makes sense, but for others it certainly does not and these parts end up in the bin as soon the bikes are unboxed

    it would also make sense to collect the cardboard at the dealers and re-use it. although that might be economically not interesting, it will for sure reduce the massive amount of cardboard at the dealers.

    Reply
  6. David Potwora on

    Getting rid of plastic is a great idea . But trek paint is weak and thin , your bike is going to be dinged up and scratched in no time anyway

    Reply
  7. Nathan on

    The paint is already so bad on treks,. Take some more shipping protection away. And see how bad brand new bikes will look sitting on the floor.

    Reply

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.