U.S. Rubber Recycling Inc.
- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: Michelle Lapin
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Before the State of California passed the Tire Recycling Act in 1989, almost two-thirds of used tires ended up in landfills across the country. While the state still produces more than 44 million used automobile tires each year — more than all but five countries worldwide — companies like U.S. Rubber Recycling Inc. (USRR) have stepped into to help divert used tires from landfills while producing innovative new recycled flooring products.
USRR produces a full range of recycled flooring solutions, including the QuietSound rolled acoustical underlayments, sports and gym flooring. The company’s flooring products can be found in exercise rooms, factories and garages across the country.
The company also manufactures mats for use in animal stalls, barns and grooming areas, as well as anti-ski matting for railroad cars and truck trailers and its Weed Abatement Roll Matting System (WARMS) which reduces erosion and weed growth along roads and other public infrastructure.
The Colton, California company is one of the largest manufacturers in the world to use 100 percent recycled rubber as the building block for all its products. A sustainable business by its very nature, USRR has enshrined green building and manufacturing practices at every turn.
“Our plant is a zero waste, uses no water and is a partial zero emissions facility where all the waste is turned back into rubber,” says Rick Synder, president and CEO of USRR.
While the company’s commercial presence is currently concentrated in the West and Southwest regions of the country, U.S. Rubber Recycling has made a push into San Diego, northern California and the Pacific Northwest and is currently eyeing further eastward expansion.
“We are growing our presence in the Midwest and constantly looking to enhance our distribution. We definitely have an advantage west of the Mississippi and are working with key strategic partners who are expanding with us in the Southwest as well,” says Steven Weisenberg, brand manager and business development specialist at USRR.
Bouncing back from challenges
Specializing in the design and manufacturing of environmentally sustainable performance building products, USRR was founded in 1986. The company introduced a number of recycled rubber flooring products to the market, but got its big break in the early 1990s when Wal-Mart selected the company’s flagship SureStep Tire Tile as the flooring of choice for the entryways to its 2,000-plus stores across the country.
Made of between 94 and 95 percent recycled rubber, SureStep Tire Tile was the perfect fit for a high-traffic area like the Wal-Mart entryway as its textured surface is effective at cleaning shoes before they can track additional dirt inside a building. “We were known in the architectural community as the company that made floor products with crumb tires,” says Synder.
After establishing itself in the industry, USRR made a number of crucial tweaks to its approach over the years. The company branched into manufacturing flooring for the fitness market, but had to quickly pivot its approach when the type of tire it was using stopped being used in the U.S. market.
“That part was unfortunate, but we hurried up, did our research and now sell rolled rubber for the sports market and as an acoustic underlayment,” says Snyder. “We’re now looking to continuously improve whether it’s through new formulas or product development.”
USRR’s sustainable flooring products come with a lifetime warranty, are water resistant and feature an antimicrobial layer designed to prevent decay. The recycled product, with raw materials sourced 100 percent from California, is also 100 percent recyclable and can be used to produce a new flooring system once it reaches the end of its useful life.
Rubber meets the road
As multifamily residential housing projects across the country increasingly opt to build upward instead of outwards, the need for sound-reducing acoustical flooring has increased. This has been a boon to USRR, which has established itself as a leading name in the booming Los Angeles construction market.
“The way sound travels from unit to unit or to floors below is becoming very important and is even being written into building codes,” says Synder.
On a recent project in downtown Los Angeles, USRR diverted 45,000 tires from a landfill to produce acoustical underlayment for a major multifamily residential housing project.
USRR will attend the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Los Angeles this fall, giving the company the chance to get its sustainable product in front of the industry’s top decision makers. “It’s a perfect storm for us and we plan to aggressively go after the market and introduce our product to the architecture and specification community,” says Synder.
With an industry-leading conference taking place right in its backyard, USRR plans to take full advantage of the opportunity, leading factory tours to help potential customers gain a greater understanding of USRR’s unique process. “We can explain what we’re doing and how it relates to the California environment specifically because the more tires that are used in these types of products, the fewer that get diverted to landfills,” he says.
A strong history of innovation and ability to turn a waste problem into a building solution will serve U.S. Rubber Recycling Inc. well for years to come.
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