Hertz to recycle all its tires

Nov 06, 2012 by Jim Motavalli

Do you have any idea what happens to the tires when you junk your car? I didn't think so. What about the 1.2 million tires on the 300,000 cars that are in the Hertz rental car fleet at any one time? I didn't think you had the answer there, either.

I thought you'd be pleased to learn that not only do up to 90 percent of America's get recycled, and made into products as diverse as playground mulch and bedding, but Hertz has just signed an agreement with the largest to recover the material from the worn-out tires that leave its fleet every year - an estimated 170,000 of them.

"We're the first rental company to commit to zero waste for tires," said Hertz spokesman Rich Broome. "We recently went through our operations to see where we could do better environmentally, and we are recovering oil and we don't , either. Our tire recycling was at best haphazard. We didn't know what the local operators were doing with them. But because of our agreement with Liberty Tire Recycling, no Hertz tire will ever be landfilled again."

Jeff Kendall, CEO of Pittsburgh-based Liberty, says that his company processes 140 million passenger tire equivalents every year, amounting to 1.4 million tons of material. Used rubber isn't worth all that much, so Hertz doesn't get paid for its surplus tires, but it does acquire peace of mind.

According to the EPA, America generates 290 million scrap tires annually, and 233 million of them make it to a market. Some 130 million are used as fuel, and 53 million go into civil engineering projects.

So what will happens to Hertz' tires? Kendall explains a few uses:

- Landfills and roads. Instead of being tossed away, ground-up tires can be used to replace sand and gravel as landfill linings. They can also be used for road foundations.

- Burning rubber. As one- or two-inch chips, used tires become Tire Derived Fuel (TDF), which can be burned as fuel at paper mills and cement kilns. "It's a substitute for coal that burns cleaner," Kendall said. "We can also shred it further and remove the steel wire and recycle that."

- Make more mulch. Ground further, as one-eighth-inch chips, tires become mulch that is sold at Sam's Club, Costco and Walmart. Some 150 million pounds of it is created every year. Used in playgrounds, it has the advantage of not washing away and absorbing falls better than other choices.

- Turf battle. Competing with artificial turf, crumb rubber has a wide application. It also can be used to make welcome mats, undercarpet materials and other useful things. Carmakers, including Ford, use reclaimed rubber in parts, including floor mats.

- Working on the railroad. Composite crossties are replacing preservative-dosed hardwood. The Chicago Transit Authority is using the new ties on its Blue Line, and enabling faster speeds.

"Another big coming use is to mix our crumb recycled tire rubber with liquid asphalt for a quieter, better-draining road," Kendall said.

Hertz has 3,000 locations, including both airport and off-airport. That's a lot of tires. It's good to know they're going to a good home. This is not your grandpa's rental-car industry. It's greening with a vengeance, renting electric cars, adopting car sharing and more.

Explore further: Team improves solar-cell efficiency

3.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A new genre of tires: Call 'em 'sweet' and 'green'

Dec 14, 2011

Motorists may be driving on the world's first "green" tires within the next few years, as partnerships between tire companies and biotechnology firms make it possible to produce key raw materials for tires from sugar rather ...

Penn State to recycle tires into roads

Apr 07, 2006

Penn State's Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies received a $696,685 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to use waste tires to improve dirt roads that are causing silting of local waterways. ...

Scrap tires can be used to filter wastewater

Nov 17, 2006

Every year, the United State produces millions of scrap tires that clog landfills and become breeding areas for pests. Finding adequate uses for castoff tires is a continuing challenge and illegal dumping has become a serious ...

Bridgestone goes airless in tire concept for Tokyo show

Dec 03, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Visitors to the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show are to witness a new breed of airless tires from Bridgestone. Interest in the general press is already humming because of the material, design, and features ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

12 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

12 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

19 hours ago

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 0