Furniture, flip flops and floors, oh my! Those are just a few of the products being repurposed from a faction of the 1.5 billion tires that get discarded each year, according to a fun little story from the BBC. And, if nothing else, the reincarnated products are durable.
Small companies in Kenya are refashioning old tires into sandals that sell for $2 to $5 a pop. The US takes that concept to the more high-brow and hip (read: pricier) level, as a company called Detroit Treads has brought on University of Michigan students to go through some of the 35,000 tires a year discarded in the Motor City and turn them into $25 flip flops (watch their commercial below). Meanwhile, some Swedish folks are grinding up old tires into a powder, mixing it with recycled plastic and creating material and producing parquet-type flooring. And in India, another company is turning old tires into material used for outdoor furniture. Probably all-weather radials, we guess.
A small fraction of old tires get put to new use through retreading and there are some larger companies giving recycling efforts a shot as well. In late 2012, Hertz started collaborating with Liberty Tire Recycling to turn some of the 160,000 tires the rental-car company discards each year into material used for playgrounds, public parks and roadways. 2012 was also the year Bridgestone Americas debuted its One Team, One Planet Spent Tire program, in which the tire maker arranged for its company-owned stores to recycle all the old tires their customers discarded.