Will the Circular Economy finally thrive after the Pandemic? | Roetz-Bikes
Will the Circular Economy finally thrive after the Pandemic?

Henry Willmott
Remanufacturing is the bicycle industry's responds to supply shortages

The current situation for our beloved bike industry is certainly no secret. As Bike Europe recently announced in 2020, “The drastic implications of the coronavirus crisis on the bicycle industry in Europe are rapidly becoming visible. Companies are looking for both creative as well as radical solutions to safeguard their businesses for the future”.

Companies are looking for both creative as well as radical solutions to safeguard their businesses for the future

Bike Europe, bike-eu.com

The expectation from various industry experts is that supply will remain constrained well beyond 2021.

Bike demand surges amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Bicycle assembly factories and distributors are struggling now more than ever to fulfil commitments, due to the huge demand for bikes (and especially e-bikes) amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

A large number of manufacturers across Europe and the Netherlands are facing supply constraints, due to various imported bike parts, frames and materials now being in short supply, or face enormous lead times. This forces customers, bicycle brands and mobility fleet owners to look for other creative ways to lock-in availability and rethink their supply chains.

One could argue: Why not utilise existing materials and parts to reproduce high quality bikes? Can this serve as a way for the industry to meet consumer demand while dealing with the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Could remanufacturing be a possible solution?

One of the possible ways to overcome the current shortage indeed is remanufacturing, says Laurens Nolet, General Manager of Roetz-Bikes. Remanufacturing, according to Roetz’ definition is:  "the production of a product to specifications of the original manufactured product, using a combination of reused, repaired and new parts“. And Nolet believes remanufacturing is here to stay.

Remanufacturing is definitely here to stay

Laurens Nolet, General Manager Roetz-Bikes

Roetz started in 2011 and was founded by Tiemen ter Hoeven, mechanical engineer and circular economy pioneer. Since 2015, remanufacturing has been an integral part of Roetz’ commercial and operational activities. It started with a project for NS OV-Fiets, the bike share program of the Dutch National Railways. For NS, Roetz has remanufactured approximately 3,500 bikes by reusing 70-80% of the original Bill of Material, measured in component weight.

Over the last few months, Roetz has received many requests as well as signed multiple contracts to remanufacture batches of existing bikes, e-bikes and cargo bikes. The goal of these project-based contracts is twofold, says Nolet: “First of all to return remanufactured bicycles back to their owners to serve a second lifetime; and secondly, to understand the salvage percentage and prove that remanufacturing has a positive business case, without jeopardizing quality”

Only a trend, or here to stay?

One of the customers Roetz is working with is CycleShare, a bike rental and lease company with rental operations at holiday parks, resorts and hotels across the Benelux. “Roetz offers a high quality, competitive alternative to purchasing new bicycle assets, by providing remanufactured bicycles of excellent quality that, without a doubt, can serve a second term. Moreover, we are able to reuse 70 to 80% of the components and therefore contribute to a more circular economy” says Rob Calis, Managing Director of CycleShare. 

Roetz offers a high quality, competitive alternative to purchasing new bicycle assets

Rob Calis, Managing Director CycleShare

CycleShare and Roetz have worked together for multiple years already, but the recent pandemic has accelerated their collaboration, as CycleShare is facing increasing lead times and uncertainty in deliveries. “In the past we were renewing our fleet every couple of years by ordering new bikes. We will still do this in part, however, remanufacturing will remain a permanent solution for us, as we believe it makes economic and societal sense for assets to serve multiple life cycles.”

Over the years Roetz has also partnered with various other companies, to offer profitable solutions to the problem of ‘end of life’ bicycles. A pilot that Roetz has started recently with Swapfiets (a bike fleet of over 200.000 bikes across Europe) proves that big names in the cycling industry are looking into remanufacturing as well, to tackle the end-of-lifecycle of their assets. This suggests that remanufacturing is at least being considered by many of such companies, and could be here to stay.

Realising fully circular bicycles by 2025 is a big goal. We are looking into new solutions and seek collaboration with experts to further improve our circularity

Richard Burger, Founder Swapfiets

Could remanufacturing be a possible answer to the ‘take - make - waste’ adagium that lies behind the bitter success of an economy based on ever-growing consumption? When asking Roetz-Bikes, the circular economy will finally thrive after the Pandemic. Let’s hope they are right.

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With the supply of bikes being constrained, Roetz’ established expertise and experience in reusing existing bike components and materials while manufacturing bicycles has proven to be greatly useful throughout the pandemic. 

Meanwhile it is working on an innovation project to develop the world's first truly ‘circular’ e-bike, and to become the first ‘circular e-bike’ company around; embracing a complete ‘cradle to cradle’ philosophy from the very start to the end of its life.

Visit roetz-bikes.com to check-out the impressive array of bicycles and e-bikes, ranging from 30-80% circularity. Every order contributes to a ‘second chance’ for valuable resources and talent through circular and social bike manufacturing at the Roetz Fair Factory in Amsterdam!