Timberland is to use more recycled rubber in its shoe soles

Timberland is to use more recycled rubber in its shoe soles

US footwear maker Timberland is taking another step towards shoring up its green credentials by using more recycled vehicle tyres – and, for the first time, latex glove waste – in its shoe soles.

The company is also incorporating the rubber waste in a wider range of styles – including athletic shoes, boat shoes and boot soles – following the successful launch last autumn of two footwear lines with outsoles made from recycled tyres.

The new shoes featuring waste latex went into production last December and will be on sale in shops by spring 2010.

According to Malaysian technology company Green Rubber Inc, the latex comes from various glove factories in Malaysia and will be made into Green Rubber at its manufacturing plant in Sungei buloh.

“With our original deal with Timberland, we demonstrated to the market that we could make high quality recycled compounds from waste tyre,” explains Green Rubber chief executive Datuk Vinod Sekhar.

“This new agreement clearly shows our technology works equally well with waste latex.”

Unlike other forms of reprocessed rubber, Green Rubber can be used in high volumes for top end applications as it retains up to 90% of the properties of the waste compound from which it was made.

Timberland uses 47% tyre-derived Green Rubber with 53% virgin rubber in its black-soled footwear collection. The footwear giant will use similar percentages for latex-derived Green Rubber.

The Malaysian firm says it is in talks with several other major shoe companies interested in using its recycled product, and by 2012 is hoping to recycle the equivalent of more than 200m discarded tyres every year. 

Apart from shoes, Green Rubber is also used in truck tyres, basketballs, dodgeballs, golf grips and has even tested well in the US for roofing material.

The company is about to launch an expansion program as it looks to open new manufacturing plants for its rubber compound in the Americas, the Middle-East, Asia and Europe.