The most environmentally friendly bike is the one you already own, closely followed by one that was owned by someone else. To extend the lifecycle of its products, reduce consumption of new materials, and cut back on waste, Trek Bicycle recently introduced Red Barn Refresh – the cycling industry’s first-ever manufacturer-led bike trade-in and refurbishment program.
Trek stores and participating Trek retailers will begin accepting the return of used Trek bicycles in exchange for in-store credit to buy a new bike later this year. The used bikes will be refurbished and sold on the brand’s website. The announcement of this circular economy initiative coincides with the release of Trek’s second Sustainability Report, which details the brand’s commitment to a more sustainable future.
With a mission to change the world by getting more people on bikes that began in a red barn in 1976, Trek is returning to its roots in the same red barn it was born where they will receive, overhaul, and resell refurbished bicycles. Red Barn Refresh was dreamt up as a solution to extend the useable life of Trek’s bicycles. All pre-owned bikes go through an exhaustive 151-point inspection process to ensure a certified awesome product and come with the same limited lifetime warranty and support as a new Trek bicycle.
“Red Barn Refresh brought us back to the red barn that started it all as we embark on the journey of reducing consumption and extending the life of these bikes, which is better for our people and the planet,” said Eric Bjorling, director of brand at Trek Bicycle. “We’ve got a lot of plans to become a much more sustainable company, and this is Trek’s effort to give really great used bikes a second chance and extend their usable life – resulting in less waste and getting more people on bikes.”
Trek stores and other participating Trek retailers will accept the return of pre-loved bikes. Once a used bike is traded in, it will be returned to the red barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin, where trained technicians will repair and replace what’s needed before it is ‘certified awesome’ and resold online to people looking to score a great bike with a lower carbon footprint.
By giving bikes a second chance, Red Barn Refresh is extending a bike’s lifecycle, which will in turn reduce the cycling industry’s waste streams. The program also gives riders access to high-quality bikes at approachable price points while simultaneously providing a convenient way to trade in quality-owned bicycles that have been left hanging in the garage.
Kids also grow, and they should have the option to have a bike that grows with them. When you buy a kids’ bike at a participating location, you can bring it back and get up to 50% of the bike’s original purchase price in credit toward the purchase of a new one. Qualifying kids’ bikes will be resold through Red Barn Refresh or donated to a local charity.
As a manufacturer, most of Trek’s environmental impact comes from the raw materials used to create products – categorized under Scope 3 emissions, which accounts for more than 95% of Trek’s total emissions. Demonstrating continued commitment to sustainable business operations, Trek introduced carbon reduction goals in the 2023 report: reducing Scope 1 and 2 by 68% and Scope 3 by 30% by 2032. These carbon emission reduction targets will be completed without the use of carbon offsets. Purchasing offsets as a way of reducing a company’s carbon footprint can impair the crucial work of knowing and improving business practices. When a company purchases offsets, it loses control of how that investment is used and whether it has a tangible benefit.
Trek believes in the bicycle as a tool for good and wants to make sure it can fulfil the promises made while maintaining the ability to deliver sustainable bicycles long into the future. Many organizations are making net-zero promises today without a plan to get there. The materials and information to reach net zero are not ready for Trek – and many other corporations – to act against, and any net zero claims should be met with some level of scepticism.
“You can’t change what you can’t see. This report transparently shows our emissions findings and evolving roadmap for the future, demonstrating real sustainable action. We hope this inspires change within, and outside of, the cycling industry,” said Bjorling.
The new 2023 Sustainability Report uses baseline measurements from Trek’s 2021 Sustainability Report – a first and only of its kind report from a manufacturer within the cycling industry – to track its progress towards decreasing total carbon emissions. More can be read here about Trek’s efforts to reduce packaging waste, recycle e-bike batteries, and manufacture products with recycled materials.
Source: Trek Bicycle Corporation