Les Schwab Tire Centers recently was recognized for its work in environmental stewardship by the Association of Washington Business (AWB).
The third largest independent tire dealership in the United States received the AWB Environmental Excellence award, which honors the company's leadership in educating and building partnerships that led to the clean up of waste tire piles throughout Washington.
In the early 1980's, Washington had hundreds of illegal tire piles that created human health and environmental risks. Beginning in 1985, Les Schwab Tire Centers encouraged the tire retail industry to take up the issue of tire management practices and to eliminate unpermitted tire piles.
“We are known for world-class customer service, so if a customer asked us to take their old tires, the store manager would ensure they were disposed of free of charge," says CEO Dick Borgman.
"Eventually, this service became a company policy for all customers, and it evolved into product stewardship. Proper tire disposal was convenient for customers and good for the environment.”
The company also has several innovative tire recycling and reuse programs. Les Schwab contracts with vendors that support several markets for scrap recovery, including the development of tire-derived fuel as an alternative energy source.
Tires also are converted into materials for civil engineering projects such as backfill for retaining walls along interstate highways, light fill, and drainage rock-like material for land application.
Other Les Schwab vendors transform crumb rubber from waste tires into flooring for gyms, workout studios and playgrounds. Demand for the product is growing because it is safer and more sanitary than the wood chips traditionally used with this recreational equipment.
"We know that great customer service means being responsive to each customer in our store and acting responsibly on behalf of the communities where we live and work," says Borgman. "Our closed-loop tire recovery program achieves both of these goals."