That Doesn’t Go There

by Seth Short
Recycle & Reuse Coordinator
he/him

While Bike Works is operating at a limited capacity, offering by-appointment bike repair and online sales, we are still working hard to intake and process bicycle donations. At least in the world of bicycle donations, spring cleaning is an unexaggerated phenomenon that provides a large chunk of our yearly total (last year our donation number surpassed 8,000 bikes). We don’t expect this year to be any different. Especially with many people quarantined and working from home, Seattleites are packed into houses and apartments that may have just one too many bikes sitting around that they aren’t riding any more.

A few weeks ago, we requested that all donations be brought to King County transfer stations rather than directly to our shop or warehouse so we could more easily control our new (and temporary) intake and disinfecting processes. This is still the best way to donate. But have you ever wondered about the process that occurs between the bikes being dropped off at transfer stations and them reaching their final destination?

A Cleanscapes Recology bin

These large bins are managed by Recology Cleanscapes, and they are periodically brought to their main sorting facility – the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Twice a week, members of the Bike Works Recycle and Reuse team visit the MRF to sort and process these donations. Donated bikes will either be taken back to Bike Works, re-donated to an outside organization (often to be shipped around the world), or melted into scrap metal. On an average day, forty to sixty bikes will be in the bins to be sorted through, but during the spring it isn’t uncommon to receive one hundred or more donations per trip. 

Through our partnership with Recology, and the many donors who drop bikes off at the transfer stations, we have received some amazing bikes and parts. We also occasionally receive very unusual donations.

Here is a brief glimpse:

Not pictured, but very commonly donated unusable items also include: lots of patio furniture, push mowers, charcoal grills, dirt-bikes, and more.

Thanks again to all of the people out there donating to Bike Works year-round with bikes and parts of all shapes and sizes. Without your donations we literally could not exist! These donations also give our Recycle and Reuse team a way to stay productive during this uncertain time, diverting thousands of pounds of waste from the landfill. We look forward to seeing what interesting things are donated to us next.

– The Bike Works R & R Team