Many of you have probably heard of the Community Cycling Center. It’s that plucky (or should I say scrappy) nonprofit known for their bike shop on NE Alberta Street, their summer camps, and more recently, a food delivery program.
But did you know they also recycle tons of scrap metal every year? 25 tons to be exact!
One of the things that powers the CCC programs and business model are the hundreds of bikes they receive as donations every year. They clean and repair as many of them as they can. Then they salvage all the usable parts. What’s left over is a messy combinations of plastic, rubber, and different types of metal that has no use to anyone. It can’t be used for cycling and it’s no good for recycling because it’s too mixed up. They offer some of it to the community via salvage sales where folks can rummage around for things to use in art projects, garden sculptures, for welding practice, and so on. But there’s still a ton of leftovers no one wants to eat.
That’s were CCC staff and volunteers come in. “We could take bikes and parts to the scrap yard without separating types of metal and removing plastic and rubber, but we want to do right by our donors, our community, and our industry,” the org said in an email today. “So we put in the extra effort to deliver clean scrap metal only. This ensures that the material will actually be recycled and used for years to come!”
This arduous process includes stripping frames, separating aluminum rims from steel spokes, separating tires, tubes, saddles, pedals and more. They estimate they recycle over 50,000 lbs of metal every year that would otherwise be taking up space in a landfill.
The CCC’s salvage program is just one cool way this nonprofit helps our community. And they’re just one of many great, bike-related nonprofits in Portland. Right now the Willamette Week is hosting their annual Give Guide, which is a handy way to learn about and donate to not just the CCC, but also to Northwest Trail Alliance, Depave, OPAL Environmental Justice, Albina Vision Trust, The Street Trust, and many other great organizations that care about our streets and our city.
Here in Greensboro NC our bike coop recycled 3 tons of steel @ $0.05/lb from bikes plus 300 lbs of aluminum @$0.30/lb, or roughly $1.16 per bike. Based on our bike count of 324 junk bikes, each bike after the tires are removed weighs in at roughly 20 lbs, so 25 tons would be 2,500 Huffys, Magnas, and Next removed from the gene pool.
Oh, I just know that I’m going to continue to confuse them with Cascade Courier Collective. As I’ll soon have a space to play with my welder more, I’m excited to learn they’ll let me pick through it.
It’s certainly nice to be reminded of good people doing good work.
A pretty good percentage of that scrap is reusable and as much as possible should be repurposed before the unusable portion is scrapped. I’ve had many friends who were chased away from the CCC’s scrap bins by employees while looking for usable bike parts.
I’m really suprised at the amount given that they probably only capture a small fraction of bikes, components, and other bike parts discarded in the Portland area. The average automobile uses ~3,000 lbs of metal so this is the equivalent of ~17 vehicles. If CCC captures 5% of this waste stream (probably a high estimate) in PDX this suggests that bicycling waste may be the equivalent of ~333 automobile’s worth of metal each year.
It seems that building bikes/bike parts that last and have substantial re-sale value would increase the sustainability of the cycling industry. I think repairability mandates that reduce use of customized and unrepairable components would also be a very good idea. /