Example – reference flow and rebound effects for re‑used bicycles

Generic product activity or name

Bike, recycled bicycle.

Context and background
Bicycles collected as lost property are today disposed of as scrap metal and recycled by re-melting. Baisikeli ApS instead sends bikes to Mozambique where they are made ready for sale and sold locally. Thereby the bikes replace new bikes, mainly manufactured in India. The purpose of the LCA (climate footprint) is to assess CO2 savings by recycling bikes in Mozambique relative to re-melt them in Europe.

Presentation of example
The functional unit was defined as ”17400 years of bicycle use in Chimoio, Mozambique, corresponding to 5800 bicycles delivered in salable condition in Chimoio, Mozambique, with an estimated lifetime of 3 years (5800 * 3 years = 17400 years).”

The corresponding reference flows are:

  • For the recycling: 8000 lost property bikes corresponding to a recycled amount of 5800 bicycles (since a little more than 1/4 of the lost property bikes are in so bad condition that they cannot be re-used).
  • For the replaced baseline system: 52200 new bicycles (= 9*5800 since the new bicycles are produced in India and of lower quality with a reported lifetime of on average only 4 months.

Composition of the bicycles are the same for the re-used and the new: Average weight 15 kg. Of this 12.5 kg is metal (primarily steel, in minor amounts aluminium; base-case assumes 100% steel), 2 kg plastic and 0.5 kg rubber.

Sensitivity analyses are performed with different replacement rates (from 1:1 to the 1:9 assumed above) and different compositions (more aluminium instead of steel).

Maintenance of the bikes has been added with on average 0.5 kg rubber, 0.35 kg plastic and 0.2 kg steel per year. Also here, a sensitivity analysis has been performed to test if differences between the systems (e.g. no maintenance in one system) could change the results.

In the baseline calculation it is assumed that the bicycles are sold at competitive prices so that there is no economic advantage from buying a renovated lost property bike instead of 9 new Indian bikes. In a sensitivity analysis it is assumed that bicycles are sold at the same price (105 USD/bike) and the price-rebound effect is calculated using WorldBank data (http://data.worldbank.org/) for the average consumption in Mozambique (0.155 kg CO2 per USD).

Information sources used
Information on the amount of lost property bicycles available as well as the replacement rate of new bikes from India was from Baisikeli ApS (pers. comm.) and from Baisikeli annual accounts 2012. Lauren Thomas, a local bicycle producer (Mozambikes), confirmed the low durability of the Indian bikes (6 months).

Weidema B P (2013). Klima-fodaftryk for genbrug af hittegodscykler – Carbon footprint for Baisikeli’s genbrugsprojekt i Mozambique. 2.-0 LCA consultants, Aalborg, Denmark. http://www.lca-net.com/files/baisikeli_report.pdf

Author of this example
Bo Weidema


How to reference this
Weidema B P (2014), Example –reference flow for re-used bicycles. Version: 2013-12-26 www.consequential-lca.org