When we drive our vehicles, we make sure regular and required maintenance, including oil changes, brake pads and even a tune up, is completed at the proper intervals. However, some of us do not pay close attention to one of our vehicle’s main components which helps it keep running on the roads; these are the tires. Tires play a very important role in our vehicle’s longevity and how it handles on the road, especially during our changing seasons in North America.
When we go to a shop to get new tires for our vehicles, we assume that the old ones will be tossed out because their tread is worn out. But what really happens to these tires once they have left our sight? Well, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes when it comes to tires and tire sustainability. One company, Western Rubber Products, located in British Columbia, takes these worn tires, and creates meaningful ways to reuse them. Although the company has humble beginnings, Western Rubber Products has now become one of the only major players in the tire recycling business in North America.
Western Rubber Products was founded by local entrepreneurs in 1989 with only three employees and one granulator, a type of machinery that is used to form grains or granules from a solid substance. Western Rubber Products uses the granulator to break down all sizes of tires. Due to Western Rubber Products’ competitiveness, philosophy, and innovations with tire recycling, it continued to grow over the 32 years. As a result, it has become one of the major companies in the tire recycling sector due to their high-quality products, dedicated employees and transporters, and outstanding customer service to its clients.
Western Rubber Products has been owned by Liberty Tire Recycling since 2010. Liberty Tire is based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is the leading provider of tire recycling services in North America. Today, Western Rubber Products operates as a full-time, year-round employer with over 125 full-time employees. Their one major goal is to keep tires of out the landfill. Western Rubber Products services every community in British Columbia with their company-owned tractors, trailers, and transporters.
As a result of company owned tractors and trailers, the collection of the tires is locally based to utilize empty trailers which are made available by other freight companies who would otherwise travel back to the Delta facility empty. Moreover, because Western Rubber Products uses these empty trailers, it assists in the reduction of the carbon footprint because these trailers are being used for transporting tires back to Delta, thus reducing greenhouse gases.
Western Rubber Products operates in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. The two facilities in the Lower Mainland are both located in Delta on Annacis Island; however, each plant operates differently.
The Cliveden Avenue plant is the main shredding facility of whole tires that are shredded for further processing. This plant is 40,000 square feet in size and contains two acres of outside storage and processing space.
The Aldford Avenue plant is the finishing facility, and this plant is 50,000 square feet in size and produces crumb rubber in a wide range of sizes. This crumb rubber is used in the finishing of sports fields, a variety of floor mats and molded products, just to name a few.
The third plant is in Chemainus, BC and occupies about one acre of land. This facility is mainly used for shredding the tires and allows for lower volumes of materials before they are sent over to the Alford Avenue plant in Delta.
Since opening in 1989, Western Rubber Products has processed over 100 million tires for a total of 2.2 billion pounds of recycled products (i.e., rubber, tire wire, fibre). Moreover, their operating area in British Columbia is 945 thousand square kilometers: to put that into perspective, it’s a third larger than the state of Texas. The company’s biggest milestone was in 2020, when Western Rubber Products recycled their 100 millionth tire.
Due to the higher demand of recycled rubber products as compared to the lower supply, Western Rubber currently imports several thousand tonnes of unprocessed material from other provinces and states yearly to meet the specifications and orders of their customers.
Western Rubber Products continues to be a leader for tire recycling in North America. Not only does the company believe in, and practice, sustainability, it also wants to educate society in tire recycling, a process which they believe is long overdue.