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Bridgestone Corporation

Trash to Treasure? A new partnership suggests that with tires, that may be so.

Bridgestone Retail Operations Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC (BSRO), headquartered in Bloomingdale, Ill., operates the largest network of company-owned automotive service providers in the world — with 2,200 tire and vehicle service centers across the United States — including Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus™, ExpertTire™ and Wheel Works store locations. BSRO is a member of the Bridgestone Americas family of companies.

When old tires kept turning up at river clean-up events, The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky went straight to the experts. The result has energized a new partnership aimed at removing the rubber debris from Kentucky’s rivers and preventing additional tires from entering local waterways.

“Most people properly dispose of tires,” says Debra Hamlin, Retail Operations’ Senior Environmental Projects Manager at Bridgestone Americas, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company. “However some good intentions to find beneficial uses for used tires sometimes go astray, leading to piles along river banks that eventually end up downstream.”

Luckily, Hamlin gets to play a role in avoiding such outcomes through Bridgestone’s One Team, One Planet Spent Tire Program. Launched on Earth Day in 2012, the program focuses on ensuring that for every new tire sold by Bridgestone in the United States, one spent tire – a tire that has been removed from use – is repurposed. Implemented by the company’s retail stores, the multi-faceted program extends to affiliated retailers wishing to voluntarily participate.

The Spent Tire Program also provides scrap tire collection for community and river clean-up events. Enter The Nature Conservancy of Kentucky.

“We jumped at the chance to engage the folks at Bridgestone upon learning about the Spent Tire Program,” says Amanda Black, the Conservancy’s Donor Relations Manager in Kentucky. “We knew they would be a great asset to our annual Clean the Green event.”

Hamlin and her co-workers were ready when the invitation came. In all, the summer 2012 Clean the Green event boasted more than 100 volunteers who handed over 50 tires to the Bridgestone team.

“We’ll recycle spent tires collected during organized community clean-up events, free of charge,” says Hamlin.

It seems like a perfect match. With 2,200 retail stores located across the U.S., Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, the retail arm of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., is always looking for opportunities to make a positive environmental impact in all of the communities where it operates. The company also has a long history of environmental stewardship and promoting scientific advancements at its Research and Development facilities.

The Conservancy operates in a similar fashion.

Hamlin adds, “Sustainability has always been a priority for Bridgestone even though, unfortunately, tires have become poster children for trash. It’s unfortunate because they have proper end uses; they can be recycled into fuel, mulch and even used to make asphalt. We are dedicated to getting the word out about these uses so that people can start seeing scrap tires as a resource – one which stays out of the way of nature.”

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