Decathlon embraces 'circular economy' with incentives to repair and recycle bikes

Buy back scheme as well as upcycling on the cards at Decathlon


Decathlon is embracing the circular economy model with a new scheme that seeks to encourage customers to recycle or repair their bikes, instead of buying new ones.

The circular economy model refers to a system where items are reused and recycled, it is effectively the antithesis of the linear economy, which favours sparkly new gear and ever brimming landfill sites.

UK cycling leader at Decathlon, Peter Lazarus, told Cycling Industry News (opens in new tab) that the business would launch a 'Decathlon Second Life Marketplace' later this year, which would apply to adult and kids' bikes.

Lazarus said: "The idea is to generate more of a circular economy and various options will be available to customers who may wish to cycle but also not buy new every time."

He said that the move was not promoted by the supply issues (opens in new tab) within the industry, caused by a perfect storm of coexisting increase in demand and supply chain difficulties brought on by Covid, as well as Brexit in the UK. However, where bikes and groupsets are in short supply, the incentive to encourage spending on maintenance seems clear.

Lazarus put a focus on recycling parts, and helping customers to "upcycle", saving money in the process.

“We as a company are looking to recycle parts where possible. If we get a defective bike it’s an option to strip it down and re-use the working parts. For the customer, it’s an option to participate in upcycling work and save money. There will be a much bigger effort to repair over replacement where possible,” Lazarus said.

Decathlon's new 'circular economy policy' will also include a 'buy back' option, where Decathlon will purchase a customer's old bike in return for vouchers - similar to the scheme adopted by Ikea towards the end of 2020.

Sustainability is a hot topic in the industry at present. Brand leaders met with Shift Cycling Culture (opens in new tab) last week, to discuss ways in which the industry can work harder to make do and mend and reduce its impact on the environment.

The organisation is running a series of interviews on its website, featuring input from the likes of Specialized, Muc Off, Schwalbe and more.

Shift Cycling Culture's core team includes Erik Bronsvoort, co-founder Circular Cycling and author of the book "From Marginal Gains to a Circular Revolution: A practical guide to creating a circular cycling economy."

Cycling Weekly is due to catch up with Shift Cycling Culture for more information next week - so watch this space!

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.