When Green is Not: Bikeshare Companies Called Out for Dumping “e-Waste Bikes”

In the wake of multiple scandalous discoveries of piles of used Ofo and Lime rideshare bikes in the US and China, the Basel Action Network (BAN) and its e-waste recycling program, e-Stewards®, is calling on all bicycle and scooter rideshare companies, and the city governments that license them, to establish responsible end-of-life policies to ensure maximal reuse and safe and responsible recycling for those bikes and scooters that cannot be reused.

Mostly yellow Ofo rideshare bikes wasting away in China. Credit: https://supchina.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Bike-graveyard-4.jpg

These bikes when scrapped are actually a form of electronic waste,” said BAN Founder and Director, Jim Puckett. “On the one hand, even the non-motorized bikes contain hazardous lithium-ion batteries and toxic circuit boards. On the other hand, they can be refurbished for children or used for transport in developing countries. If that is not possible, the parts such as GPS units, electric locks, motors, and wheels can be harvested. For both their value and their toxicity, these bikes should not just be treated as garbage or scrap metal.