Worn-out car tires will soon hit the road, sidewalks and trails again–as the soles of Timberland shoes and boots. The Stratham, NH-based brand and tire manufacturer and distributor Omni United have paired up to create Timberland Tires, a co-branded line of tires purposely designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles after their journey on the road is complete. “It’s this kind of cross-industry collaboration that’s fueling real change and innovation in the marketplace,” says Timberland President Stewart Whitney.
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: That the tire and footwear industries are two of the largest users of virgin rubber. By designing Timberland Tires for a second life from the outset, they are ensuring the tires won’t be used for tire-derived fuel or end up in landfills.
The U.S.-made tires have targeted warranties ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 miles, and will be set aside for recycling by retailers when consumers purchase new tires. The used tires will then be recycled into crumb rubber to be mixed into a Timberland-approved compound for outsoles that will ultimately be incorporated into its boots and shoes with black outsoles.
Stewart anticipates that the first lot of returned Timberland Tires to be ready for recycling in late 2017. Until then, Timberland and Omni are seeking alternative recycled rubber compounds for a special collection of boots with outsoles inspired by the treads on Timberland Tires to launch in Fall ’16. “This is only the beginning,” Stewart says. “We are already brainstorming ways to scale the idea by exploring new and innovative uses for recycled rubber. At the same time, we both hope this initiative inspires more cross-industry collaboration and innovation that leads to reduced environmental impact.”