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Comparison of the environmental impact of bike frame materials: aluminium vs bamboo

Comparison of the environmental impact of bike frame materials: aluminium vs bamboo

how sustainable is…

A study comparing the environmental impacts of manufacturing a bicycle frame from aluminium vs bamboo suggests that the bicycle with the bamboo frame has a lower impact on the environment. However, the study suggests the differences are small.

The comparison takes into account the following stages of the bicycle’s life cycle: resource extraction, processing, shipping, manufacture, use and disposal. The comparison includes the following assumptions:

  • The bicycles are both made in Germany
  • Both bicycles are identical in terms of the components used, except for the frame
  • The bamboo is cultivated in China (at a plantation assumed to be sustainably managed) and then shipped to Germany for bicycle manufacture using hemp and epoxy.
  • The bamboo plantation does not require irrigation (this assumption, as well as the assumptions around pesticide use may not be reliable, requiring further investigation).
  • The aluminium is produced from a Bauxite mine in Guinea, the alumina shipped to Germany for aluminium production (assuming that 60% of the aluminium is recycled aluminium).

Interestingly, the study suggests that the carbon footprint of the two types of bicycles is about the same (both around 235 kg CO2 equiv).

Link to full report

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.

what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?

Keep riding your bike instead of using a car whenever possible!

You can’t do much better than cycling instead of using a car. If you want to minimise the environmental footprint of your bicycle, look after it, so it lasts as long as possible!

Report Rating: 2 out of 3

Report Published: 2012

Country: Germany

Author(s): Ya-Ju Chang, Erwin M. Schau and Matthias Finkbeiner

Publisher: World Sustainability Forum

Funder: not known

Keywords: life cycle analysis, LCA, cradle to grave analysis, environmental footprint, sustainability, bike, bicycle, transport, travel, bamboo, aluminum, cycle, commute.

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