Hertz shifts gears, gives new life to old tires

When it comes to tire recycling, Hertz is ahead of the pack.

The rental car giant has formed a partnership with Liberty Tire Recycling to turn all of its tires into everything from mulch to playground flooring. As one of the largest rental car companies in the world, Hertz (NYSE: HTZ) claims that this is the first zero landfill waste tire program in the industry.

For Liberty Tires Recycling, the Hertz deal represents a big gain. The Pittsburgh-based company is the largest tire recycler in North America and annually converts more than 110 million tires into raw materials for sustainable products like rubber mats, playground products, toilet plungers and street asphalt.

"We're always looking to develop partnerships with companies that have a significant amount of tires," said CEO Jeff Kendall. "We have a large footprint in the United States and Canada and they have a similar presence in their industry, so it's logical that we would form a partnership."

Kendall said his company recycles the old tires of most of the large tire sellers, including Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE: COST), Pep Boys (NYSE: PBY) and Bridgestone Tires.

Hertz spokesman Richard Broome said the deal with Liberty Tire Recycling came together quickly.

"It took only a few months to work out a relationship," Broome said. "We knew we had all of these tires that were damaged and we didn't have a consistent source of disposal for the tires; some were being recycled and some were going into landfills. We really wanted to get a handle on what was happening to these tires."

Hertz goes through about 160,000 tires a year and on averages the company replaces them after eight or nine months, Broome said.

"It not that the tires get worn out," he said. "But what happens is that some tires get damaged; a customer might run over a nail or something like that and you need to change the tires out."

Photo of tires and recycling bin provided by Blazej Lyjak/Shutterstock

Next page: Follow the leader