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Abandoned bikes get a second life

Global Goals & Global Society
Abandoned bikes get a second life

In Sweden, the company Umeå Wheels gives a second life to abandoned bikes.

Umeå Wheels is a start-up that collects, repairs and offers second-hand bikes for sale or rent. This is how it was able to save no less than 900 bikes in 2 years, which it offers for sale at a price of $60. The company wants to "reduce the waste of resources and reach a goal of zero stolen or abandoned bikes. We believe that reuse should not just be an option, but the first thing to go. Recycling is the last thing we should do to reduce CO2 emissions from melting bike components.

Students at the heart of the project

The name of the start-up is based on the city where it was born, Umeå. It is a small town in the north central region of Sweden with a large university population of about 30,000 students. Bicycles are the most preferred mode of transportation, but many students buy cheap city bikes and abandon them when they leave. This observation motivated Aamer Barood, a Sudanese who moved to Umeå in 2016, himself a student at the time, to start this business. Discounts are applied for students who want to buy a bike. When they leave the city, they also have the opportunity to resell the bike. Maintenance is free which is a big plus, as most of the bikes are old and the city's harsh winters mean that the bikes need more maintenance.

Towards a circular economy

The goal of Umeå Wheels is to make cycling easier while creating a more sustainable city. The protagonists of the project want to make the ecological bicycle the main means of transportation. Aamer Barood reports to Marina Keleva that the start-up is struggling to make a profit and recoup the cost of the project. However, smart partnerships and collaborations are made with authorities and other organizations. For example, in order to prevent bicycle theft, the company is trying to develop a digital registration system for bicycles. For each transaction, the owner of the bike is reported, to reduce theft and illegal sales.

More and more people recycle everyday. This helps to reduce the need for landfill and more costly forms of disposal. Recycling also reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution. Not everything has to be thrown away after using it. Some of the products one uses appear to have a second or even third life in another way. There is a lot of information on the internet how and what can be recycled. Alternative ways must be taken to achieve certain Sustainable Development Goals until 2030.

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