Timberland and Omni United champion circular economy with ‘road-to-shoe’ tyres

Global outdoor-wear company Timberland and tyre manufacturer and distributor Omni United have teamed up to produce a line of tyres intended to be recycled into footwear out-soles once finished with on the road.

The tyre and footwear industries are two of the largest users of virgin rubber. Timberland Tires will ensure no tyres are used for fuel or end up in landfill through an innovative tyre return chain of custody process.

How it works

– Worn out Timberland Tires will be set aside for recycling by tyre retailers once consumers have purchased replacements.

– These tyres will then be shipped to a North American recycling facility to be turned into crumb rubber.

– This crumb rubber will be processed into sheet rubber ready to be shipped to Timberland outsole manufacturers.

– The sheet rubber will be mixed into a compound for outsoles to be incorporated into Timberland boots and shoes.

Timberland president Stewart Whitney said: “An outdoor lifestyle brand and an automotive industry leader may, at first blush, seem unlikely partners – yet our shared values have given birth to tyres that express a lifestyle, deliver performance and safety, and prove that sustainability can be so much more than a theory.

“It’s this kind of cross-industry collaboration that’s fuelling real change and innovation in the marketplace.”

The range

The Timberland Tires range will be formed of three lines comprising more than 90 sizes of tyre. The CROSS tyre – for small SUVs and crossover vehicles; the A/T tyre – for trucks and large SUVs; and the TOUR tyre – for cars will initially be sold in the United States at national and regional tyre retailers and online through an e-commerce platform.

Omni United chief executive G.S. Sareen said: “Omni United and Timberland are taking an entirely different view of sustainability by designing Timberland Tires for a second life from the outset. That is one of the reasons why establishing a take-back and recycling program before the first tyre is sold – and choosing an appropriate rubber formulation for recycling the tyres into footwear – is so critical.”

With warranties targeting 50,000 to 80,000 miles depending on tyre model, Timberland and Omni United predict that the first lot of returned Timberland Tires will be ready for recycling in late 2017.

This is not the first instance in which tyres have been recycled into shoes. Independent sustainable footwear company soleRebels was founded in 2004 in Ethiopia. But this is the first time two global brands have partnered to create such a product on a national scale.

Fashionable sustainability

Last week, edie reported that the firm behind the North Face and Timberland brands, had released its first Sustainability Report, setting new company-wide targets and detailing the green initiatives it plans to scale-up, with Timberland planning to roll out features of the sustainable Earthkeepers collection across its entire brand.

The news follows a number of recent sustainable stories in the fashion industry with 25 major fashion brands having recently committed to an industry campaign to eliminate deforestation from supply chains and a new award from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) – ‘SCAP ELC’ Award – challenging final-year fashion and textile design undergraduates and industry professionals from across England to come up with new clothing ranges that are wearable for longer while remaining fashionable and therefore saleable.

—Sustainability: fashion’s latest trend?—

Lois Vallely

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