KENYA-ECONOMY-SANDALS
  • KENYA-ECONOMY-SANDALS
  • A Kenyan man shows a pair of sandals locally known as 'Akalas' made from recycled tyres in the outskirts of Nairobi on July 30, 2014. Akala sandals have soles that are crafted from car tyres and are cushioned by rubber padding. They cost ten times less (between 2 and 5 US dollars) and last ten times longer than the average footwear in local shops. AFP PHOTO/ SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: SIMON MAINA via Getty Images
KENYA-ECONOMY-SANDALS
  • KENYA-ECONOMY-SANDALS
  • Kenyan shoemaker Munyao displays pairs of sandals locally known as 'Akalas' made from recycled tyres in the outskirts of Nairobi on July 30, 2014. Akala sandals have soles that are crafted from car tyres and are cushioned by rubber padding. They cost ten times less (between 2 and 5 US dollars) and last ten times longer than the average footwear in local shops. AFP PHOTO/ SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: SIMON MAINA via Getty Images
Mideast Sudan
  • Mideast Sudan
  • A Sudanese man move rubber pieces made out of tires and inner tubes at a shop in a market in Omdurman, Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, May 12, 2014. Scrap tires are cut into pieces and recycled into other things, such as rubber bands, containers and sandals. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Peru Andean Soccer
  • Peru Andean Soccer
  • A sandal made with materials from a recycled car tire, typically used by Peru's indigenous people in the Andes, lays on the field during a soccer championship in Lima, Peru, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. The championship was played Friday by Andean market vendors in commemoration of the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mideast Sudan
  • Mideast Sudan
  • A Sudanese man shows pairs of sandals made out of rubber pieces cut out from a tire at a shop in a market in Omdurman, Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, May 12, 2014. Scrap tires are cut into pieces and recycled into other things, such as rubber bands, containers and sandals. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mideast Sudan
  • Mideast Sudan
  • A Sudanese man cuts a heavy duty machine tire into rubber pieces at a shop in a market in Omdurman, Khartoum, Sudan, Monday, May 12, 2014. Scrap tires are cut into pieces and recycled into other things, such as rubber bands, containers and sandals. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
car tire sandals
  • car tire sandals
  • car tire sandals
  • Image Credit: Mr.Fink's Finest Photos/Flickr
Local sandals
  • Local sandals
  • Local sandals
  • Image Credit: mwanasimba/Flickr
detroit treads tigers sandalsFurniture, 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.



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