Timberland and tire manufacturer and distributor Omni United have created tires designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles at the end of their life on the road.
The co-branded line of tires was unveiled at the Specialty Equipment Market Association automotive trade show in Las Vegas earlier this week.
The tire and footwear industries are two of the largest users of virgin rubber. The majority of tires on the market today have a limited life span; ecologically sound disposal at the end of that life span presents yet another challenge.
Timberland and Omni United envisioned — and then built — a partnership to create a more sustainable lifecycle for rubber.
Timberland Tires will be made in the US (using both domestic and imported materials) and feature a rubber formulation that is appropriate for the recycling of the tires at the end of their useful life into Timberland shoes, rather than alternatives such as being used for tire-derived fuel or ending up in landfills.
The companies have established an industry-first tire return/chain of custody process, to ensure the tires go directly to dedicated North American recycling facilities to begin their path toward a second life as part of a Timberland product. Key steps include:
- Tire retailers will set aside used Timberland Tires for recycling after consumers purchase new tires to replace their worn out tires.
- Omni United is partnering with Liberty Tire Recycling and its network of tire collection and recycling firms to sort and segregate the Timberland Tires at the companies’ facilities.
- The used tires will be shipped to a North American tire recycling facility where they will be recycled into crumb rubber.
- The crumb rubber will be processed further into sheet rubber for shipment to Timberland outsole manufacturers.
- The rubber will be mixed into a Timberland-approved compound for outsoles that will ultimately be incorporated into Timberland boots and shoes. This blended compound will meet the company’s exacting standards for quality and performance, as well as its compliance standards.
The Timberland Tires product line provides market coverage in three categories. The Timberland CROSS tire (for small SUVs and crossover vehicles) will be available in April 2015 in 21 sizes, expanding to 35 sizes by September 2015. The Timberland A/T tire (for trucks and large SUVs) will be available in July 2015 in 30 sizes, and the Timberland TOUR tire (for cars) will be launched in 2016 in at least 25 sizes. This will round out the Timberland Tires portfolio, giving it three distinct lines with 90+ sizes covering about 75 percent of the North American passenger vehicle market.
Timberland Tires will be sold initially in the United States at leading national and regional tire retailers, as well as online through an e-commerce platform.
With warranties targeting 50,000 to 80,000 miles depending on tire model, Timberland and Omni United anticipate that the first lot of returned Timberland Tires will be ready for recycling in late 2017. Until a critical mass of supply comes in, Timberland and Omni United are seeking alternative recycled rubber compounds for a special collection of Timberland boots with outsoles inspired by the treads on Timberland Tires. These boots are slated to launch in fall 2016.