bike advocacy, bicycle tour, bicycle safety


Recycling Bicycles
Donating Used Bicycles and Parts,
Finding Pre-owed Bikes,
 & International Bicycle Recycling Programs





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Individuals with Surplus Bicycles to Donate:
If you are an individual with a bicycle or two, or bicycle parts and accessories to donate for repair, reuse and recycling, it is usually most practical and cost effective to donate them to a local program. In some areas you have a choice of directing you bike to an organization that will use it internationally or to a domestic program.  We have three pages to check that can help you find local or not-so-local organizations that might want your bike(s);

  1. youth bike programs (local recycling)
  2. bike library / community bike programs (local recycling)
  3. organizations collecting and redistributing used bicycles domestically and internationally 

If you have only bicycle parts, and can't find an organization that will accept then, we have collected a little addition information on recycling bicycle parts.

Organizations Requesting Bicycles:
Click on this link for a list of organizations requesting new or used bikes.

If you are in a less developed region and would like a shipment of bikes, let us know and we will use our network to try and find an organization that would like to collect the bikes, and prepare and send the shipment. We have also posted contact information for a few of the organizations shipping and distributing bicycles domestically and  internationally.

Bear in mind: 1) The organizations collecting and shipping used bikes tend to be able to find plenty of bikes, but they are all short on money for shipping. Organizations requesting bikes have a better chance of getting bikes if they can secure the shipping money from another source. 2) It is as easy or easier to send a full container of bikes (about 450) as it is to arrange for a lesser amount.  And, 3) Bear in mind that these programs deal in used bikes, which are in all different conditions of ridability. These bicycle-recycling arrangements works best when the receiving organization has a bicycle mechanic training component in its mission to help fix-up the bikes for other end users they might have in their program.

Organizations Requesting Bicycle Mechanic Training:
Click on this link for a lists of organizations requesting trainers

If you are in a less developed region and would like to receive bicycle mechanic training, especially if you can offer the trainer room, board and/or a stipend, let us know and we will use our network to find an individual that would like to work with you. Some of the organizations shipping and distributing bicycles internationally also provide this kind of program so investigate them too.

Individuals interested in providing bicycle mechanic training
If you are interested in volunteering with an international bicycle recycling program training mechanics and/or teaching bicycle repair and helping to administer the distribution end of one of these programs check the lists of organizations requesting trainers and organizations distributing bicycles internationally.

Organizations Collecting, Shipping and Distributing Used and Refurbished Bicycles:
Click on this link for a list of organizations shipping and distributing bicycles internationally.

If your organization would like to make a shipment of bikes to a less developed region, but don't know of a recipient, let us know and we will use our network to help you find one.  We have also posted information from organizations requesting bikes. For a guide on doing you own international bicycle recycling program click here.

Individuals wanting to find a used / pre-owned / second hand bicycle
If you are looking for a used bicycle there is no surefire way to get one, but there is likely one available if you have a little persistence.  Here are some leads:

  1. Freecycle Join and participate in your local freecycle groups.
  2. Craig's List There are local Craig's List around the world.  Bicycle show up in the for sale section (sometimes for a song)
  3. Youth Bike Programs Depending upon your circumstances this may be a source for a used bike.
  4. Bike Library / Community Bike Programs. Each of these programs have a different structure.  Some will help people to get a bike.
  5. Cruise garage sales and yard sales.
  6. Attend auctions (Police auctions) and estate sales.
  7. Check community bulletin board with for sale items (college campuses at the end of the year can be a good source.)
  8. Survey the thrift and second-hand stores: Goodwill, Salvation Army, used sporting goods.
  9. Some bicycle shops sell used bikes.

Recycling (Reusing) Bicycle Parts
Many of the organization collecting bicycles to be shipped internationally will also take "usable" bicycle parts.  The beauty of these is they can be packed in the airspace between the bikes, so it is as if the parts travel for free, yet they add value to the shipment.

Unfortunately, by the time most people are shedding parts they are pretty much beyond "useable".  Depending upon the items there are different preferred actions:

Architecture: For inspiration on DIY bicycle architecture, domes, egg, energy tower, trusses.

Aluminum parts:  Rims, especially have been given second lives as furniture (see Bike Furniture Design). Even if you don't have the hankering to be a craftsperson, or get the materials to someone who is, there is still enough value in aluminum that it is often cost effective to separate it out and sell it as scrap to a metal recycler.

Inner tubes: Inner tubes have a lot of secondary uses before they need to be discarded.  In Africa, a patched quality inner tube can be better than a new Chinese inner tube (which tend to split).  Large-size, patchable, inner tubes can be sent to the Village Bicycle Project, c/o Craig Lorch, Total Reclaim, 1915 S Corgiat Dr, Seattle WA 98108, and they will be sent to Africa.  Unpatchable inner tubes can be woven and used as webbing for chairs and to weave purses and bags. They are also great for "tie-downs".  Inner tubes can be used for tying loads to racks, or trailers or hanging things from the ceiling. 

Tires: Generally bicycle tires can be recycled in the same manner as vehicle tires.  Many bike shops will collect and store used tires, which are then delivered to cooperating vehicle tire stores for there tire recycling programs, or picked up by licensed tire / rubber recyclers.  Many jurisdictions have protocols for how tires can be disposed of legally.  A quick Internet search for "tire recycler" with your geographical area should put you onto what are the best-practices locally.

If you are a gardener, here is a DIY reuse idea:  A stack of mountain bike tires turned inside out and supported with rod or canes stuck into the ground, make very good composters stack. Some tires are better for this than others.

If you are near northwest Argentina, Cata Marca Project is recycling tires. For more information contact: (2017).

Chains, chain rings, etc.:  Chains can be use by local artists for creative pieces -- ask around. They also can have a second life in Africa after they are considered surplus in the industrial world.

If you are motivated, there are instructions floating around the Internet on how to make crafts like belts and wallets from busted tubes and picture frames from chains. If you have exhausted your local options you can check with Resource Revival and Bike Furniture Design.

Residual: The best you can do with the residual is to steer it to a metal recycler.  For them to accept the item all of the rubber and plastic will need to be removed.  You will need recruit socially minded free labor to make this work.

If you have ideas to add to this section please write us..


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The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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