Timberland announced a collaboration with tire manufacturer and distributor Omni United to create a co-branded line of tires under the Timberland and Radar Tires brands. Timberland Tires will be the first tires ever purposely designed to be recycled into footwear outsoles after their journey on the road is complete. The partnership is described by the companies as “setting new standards for sustainable innovation in the tire industry.”
According to sources at Timberland and Omni United, 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, and ecologically sound disposal at the end of that life span presents is a challenge. Timberland Tires represent a new model in tire innovation: a sustainable, tire-to-shoe lifecycle.
“Our partnership with Omni United marks a new day for the tire and footwear industries,”
“An outdoor lifestyle brand and an automotive industry leader may, at first blush, seem unlikely partners – yet our shared values have given birth to tires that express a lifestyle, deliver performance and safety, and prove that sustainability can be so much more than a theory,” said Stewart Whitney, president of Timberland. “It’s this kind of cross-industry collaboration that’s fueling real change and innovation in the marketplace.”
Positioned at the premium end of the market, 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 Timberland shoes, rather than alternatives such as being used for tire-derived fuel or ending up in landfills, say company executives.
“Given the strength of the Timberland brand, and our target consumer’s appreciation for sustainability, we see a huge opportunity to change the way people choose their tires,” said G.S. Sareen, president and CEO of Omni United. “With Timberland Tires, drivers can be confident that their tires will perform, while also making a statement that expresses their lifestyle and values.”
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.
“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 tire is sold – and choosing an appropriate rubber formulation for recycling the tires into footwear – is so critical,” said Sareen. “Our intent is to capture every worn Timberland Tire and recycle it for a second life, so none is used as fuel or ends up in a landfill.”
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 then 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.
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 Timberland boots with outsoles inspired by the treads on Timberland Tires. These boots are slated to launch in fall 2016.
For more information about Timberland Tires, visit www.timberlandtires.com.