Monday, September 04, 2006

How To Make Money From Old Tires.

Lindsay Smith Story

It is estimated that America produces about 380 million tons of waste a year. This also generates a number of harmful gasses and emissions into the atmosphere and maintains the nation's dependence on landfills. Entrepreneurs who have taken to creating businesses based on the trash of others are not only launching new livelihoods but giving a second life to discarded rubbish while helping the environment.

In 2001, outraged at seeing 26 trees marked for destruction in her Gardena (Calif.) neighborhood because their growth was damaging area sidewalks, Lindsay Smith, a Hollywood screenwriter, unwittingly became an activist and an entrepreneur, soon launching Rubbersidewalks. "These were healthy, mature trees that were being destroyed because the city couldn't afford to repair the broken sidewalks," she says. "We weren't even given the opportunity to weigh in on the choice."

Smith went into action. "It turns out this was a really big problem," she says. And not just in her neighborhood. According to Rubbersidewalks, 330,000 miles of U.S. sidewalks are damaged annually. Moreover, many municipalities simply cut down the trees because it has become too costly to constantly repair the sidewalks.

After doing some investigating, Smith got a grant from the state of California to do research on using rubber pavers as a substitute for concrete sidewalks. Smith spent two years in R&D, eventually coming up with a product made entirely of recycled rubber tires.

The pre-molded, prefabricated rubber squares are cut to fit and are installed over a layer of crushed granite. Interlocking dowels connect the pavers. For repairs, individual pavers can be unlocked and removed.

Smith's rubber sidewalks created a solution to four problems. First, they reduce the number of tires piling up in dumps—according to the Rubber Manufactures Assn., every year more than 250 million scrap tires are thrown out in the U.S.

Second, using rubber pavers, which are unbreakable, reduces the cost of repairing sidewalks, as well as the number of lawsuits resulting from injuries sustained from people tripping on broken concrete. Rubber sidewalks also help preserve trees, and they don't add to what's called heat-island effect, the increase in urban air and surface temperatures due to pavement, asphalt, and building infrastructures.

According to Smith, Rubbersidewalks have been installed in 60 cities across the country and Canada. She says she's gotten requests from metropolitan centers in Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand as well.

Moreover, Smith says she has heard from senior citizen homes interested in installing rubber sidewalks because they are safer and easier on limbs. "We've had 1,000% growth this year," she says. "We will have more growth next year—it has skyrocketed."

Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America