Timberland has announced a collaboration with tire manufacturer and distributor Omni United to create the first tires ever purposely designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles after their journey on the road is complete.
Timberland Tires represent a new model in tire innovation: a sustainable, tire-to-shoe lifecycle. The tires will be made in the U.S. (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 shoes, rather than alternatives such as being used for tire-derived fuel or ending up in landfills.
Timberland and Omni United first conceived this partnership three years ago, when sustainability leaders from both brands came together to address a longstanding shared concern. 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.
To bring the tire-to-shoe continuum to life, Timberland and Omni United 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 stringent 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 a state-of-the-art 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 boots with outsoles inspired by the treads on Timberland Tires. These boots are slated to launch in fall 2016.
In 2009, Timberland became the first footwear manufacturer to commercialize Green Rubber, a patented technology for turning waste tires into new materials. The company began using a blend of Green Rubber compound and virgin rubber compound for an outsole that is made up of 42 percent recycled content.
Earlier this year, Timberland announced reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 50 percent since 2006 — meeting its 2015 emissions-reduction goal two years ahead of schedule — and it now derives 26 percent of its energy from renewable sources, exceeding its 2013 target of 23 percent. The company attributed these accelerated results in 2013 to a higher use of renewable energy sources in its European headquarters and distribution centers, such as its 100 percent wind-powered, BREEAM-certified (the European equivalent of LEED) distribution center in Eschede, Holland.