From Shoes to Tires—and Back
For the last several years, Timberland has been selling tires for SUV’s, vans and pickup trucks. Why is a footwear company selling tires? It’s a great question - the two industries are seemingly worlds apart. But not anymore. As it turns out,Timberland has partnered with a prominent US-based tire manufacturer to create a new tire that is specifically designed for footwear outsoles once the tire tread wears out. These all-season tires boast impressive wear and traction ratings, having been tested by a third party and come out with above average marks. The tires are also already available at most tire shops. Additionally, Timberland offers 10% off all of their products for tire customers. Timberland’s tire-to-sole program has made sustainability accessible to consumers through a very compelling value proposition all while creating a useful product that is normally hard to dispose of.
Recycling Tires For Footwear
In the past, utilizing recycled tires for shoes was challenging because it required a lot of manual labor to properly process the tire for use in commercial footwear applications. Scrap tires typically contain about 70% recoverable rubber with the remaining 30% consisting of steel, fiber and extraneous material that cannot be used. Today’s new processes allow the tires to be ground down and separated with machines, creating a by-product called crum rubber which can be regenerated into new products like outsoles for shoes.
Timberland likely decided to develop their own tires so as to produce a homogeneous batch of crum rubber that gave them more control and consistency when producing outsoles for shoes. That being said, I wonder if Timberland could have developed a partnership with a pre-existing tire company to more quickly grow sales and stock of recycled material?
At any rate it is awesome to see Timberland continue to takes steps to turn waste into new products and test new business practices that grows customer base and loyalty.