This week Hertz announced a new program that will recycle up to 160,000 tires annually. The partnership with Liberty Tire Recycling is part of Hertz’s promise to implement a zero-landfill policy for the tires the rental car company uses each year.
Tire recycling has been a success story over the past 20-plus years, as approximately 70 to 80 percent of scrap tires end up converted into fuel, ground cover, pavement or new products. Nevertheless, that still leaves tens of millions of tires in the U.S. alone that end up in a landfill. And while new technologies are in the pipeline and more companies commit to using recycled tires in their products, there is still plenty of room for improvement. There are only so many outdoor furniture sets or shoes that companies and designers can create out of tires, but programs similar to what is occurring at Hertz can be part of a wider solution.
According to a press release Hertz issued on Monday, most of the tires the company and Liberty Tire Recycling will reprocess go towards several different uses. Many of those tires will end up shredded and converted into rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is ideal for public spaces because it is non-allergenic, will not wash away during rain, has no effect on plants, pets or children, and finally, resists insect, mold or fungi infestation. It lasts longer than wood mulch, does a better job of sealing in ground moisture and also reduces the amount of trees needed to create mulch. Other uses for Hertz’s old tires include playground and public park surfaces, composite railroad ties and rubberized asphalt. The latter, a longer lasting and quieter option for roads and highways than conventional asphalt, shows how crucial it is that all used and worn out tires are recycled: it takes 8,000 tires for each mile of rubber asphalt pavement. To provide infill for an NFL football field, almost 23,000 tires are required.
For Hertz, this new tire recycling program is another cog in the company’s sustainability efforts. The company claims 80 percent of the car wash water the company consumes is recycled; it recycled 645,000 gallons of used motor oil in 2010; and produces 2.7 million kilowatt hours of energy a year. The rental car industry has a huge environmental impact, but Hertz’s recycling efforts, coupled with a gradual integration of fuel-efficient cars and even electric vehicles, show that such changes within the travel and tourism sector are more than possible.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter.
Image courtesy Liberty Tire Recycling