Driving a Greener Tomorrow

Liberty Tire Recycling
Written by Claire Suttles

Liberty Tire Recycling is on a mission to “drive a greener tomorrow that will improve our quality of life, protect our ecosystems and preserve natural resources,” explains the company’s website. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based business works to achieve this goal by reclaiming, recycling, reusing, and repurposing discarded tires.

Tires are polluting the planet at an alarming rate. In addition to the environmental damage, discarded tires are a public health concern because they are a breeding ground for disease-carrying insects. Liberty Tire Recycling wants to reduce these negative impacts—and it is succeeding. The company collects and processes over 217 million tires annually, preventing over 4.3 billion pounds of rubber from going to landfill last year alone. It has also successfully remediated 150 dump sites since 2011. No wonder this company claims the title of market leader in tire recycling management.

Innovation and vision are at the heart of the business. The team is encouraged to see beyond the ordinary, envisioning potential instead of pollution. This creative, can-do mindset is key to the company’s success and has led to many innovative products.

Take yoga mats as just one example of practical, impactful repurposing. The team creates tire crumb that is ideal for manufacturing sustainable mats. With an estimated 40 million-plus people in the United States practicing yoga, there is a huge market for the product. In 2021 alone, Liberty Tire Recycling displaced an estimated 190,000 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) through the use of tire crumb for rubber mats.

Using North America’s biggest network of tire recycling facilities, the company collects scrap tires and provides remediation services for abandoned tire piles. After the team collects the tires, they process them, resell any tires that can still be used safely, and break down the remaining tires into raw materials. Manufacturers then use this recycled rubber to create safe and innovative products.

These products include everything from rubber mulch, rubberized asphalt, and artificial turf to shock-absorbing athletic surfaces, rubberized flooring, and landscaping products. In gardens, athletic fields, playgrounds, and more, this recycled rubber is finding new life in a wide variety of places. The company is behind a number of well-known brands commonly stocked in home improvement stores, including Rubberific®, GroundSmart®, and NuScape.

Liberty Tire Recycling relies on “four pillars of sustainably” for guidance. The first pillar is the advancement of sustainable products. Ultimately, the goal is to minimize waste by finding a beneficial reuse for every part of a discarded tire. This means always being open to new ideas for safe, sustainable applications.

Safety is always at the forefront, so every Liberty Tire Recycling product is safe and environmentally friendly. The company’s organic products are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certified, and the team continues to move forward toward compliance with ASTM testing standards and IPEMA testing for applicable rubber products.

The acceleration of environmental stewardship is the second pillar, and recycling old tires is just a part of the team’s commitment to sustainability. The company has identified areas where it can slash consumption of greenhouse gases and has rolled out software that optimizes collection routes and makes sure that each truck is loaded to capacity by the end of the route, reducing the carbon impact of collection itself. In addition, the company complies with all regulatory requirements and follows best practices when it comes to emissions, water and waste management, and energy efficiency.

The team measured the company’s carbon footprint and handprint in 2020 and 2021 to better grasp its total impact on the environment. By measuring its handprint, the company can determine how helpful it is to use recycled products versus virgin alternatives, and how much that use could reduce global greenhouse emissions.

The third pillar is to engage people and communities. This begins with a workplace culture that prioritizes health and safety. The goal is zero workplace injuries, fires, or accidents. The company’s safety program relies on proactive measures that are backed by research, and the positive impact of this approach is evident; Liberty Tire Recycling has seen an 82 percentg decrease in lost time injuries and a 67 percent decrease in annual OSHA recordables since 2010.

Liberty Tire Recycling invests in its people, emphasizing growth and development and promoting from within the company. Promoting diversity and inclusion is an ongoing effort. The company partners with veteran recruiting agencies throughout the United States and participates in an immigrant hiring program, employing over 100 Venezuelan immigrants in the past year. The team has also hired more than 200 workers through its second-chance program, which offers employment to people who have recently been released from prison.

When it comes to the community, the team believes in leading by example and strives to be good corporate citizens. Liberty Tire Recycling supports its local community in a variety of ways, including helping families in need during the holidays, participating in the CT Clean River Project, and sponsoring a youth sports team.

The company’s fourth pillar is to operate responsibly, believing in maintaining a strong moral compass while doing business. The company utilizes a Code of Conduct in order to promote honest, ethical behavior; accurate, fair, and timely disclosure practices; full compliance with applicable rules, regulations, and laws; immediate reporting of violations; and overall accountability. Cyber security is also an important component of responsible operations, so the company has a robust program in place to mitigate threats.

The team reports that reclaiming, recycling, reusing, and repurposing is only the beginning of its commitment to good environmental stewardship. In order to help build a better future for the planet, Liberty Tire Recycling has set specific targets for the future, as outlined in its 2022 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report.

The company has a goal of zero waste by 2030, with every tire it collects entering an end-use market. The team also plans to lower energy intensity by 25 percent by 2032, achieving this by identifying opportunities in a number of areas including compressed air management, LED lighting upgrades, peak demand, power factor, and production efficiencies.

By 2032, the company also plans to improve fleet efficiency by 30 percent. The team will carry this out in a number of ways, including the use of alternative fuels, route optimization, DOT compliance, idle time reductions, driver training, and increased fuel efficiency.

The team is committed to forging ahead, stating that, “We won’t stop looking for product opportunities in the market. We constantly ask ourselves if recycled rubber is the perfect answer to an unsolved problem or if it can be a better solution than products that currently exist.” Liberty Tire Recycling is a company to watch as the team seeks to uncover those better solutions—and deliver them.



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