PHOENIX-Converting scrap tires into garden hose may require more effort, but it pays off in the marketplace, according to Aquapore Moisture Systems Inc. ``We were looking for a way to use old tires, to grind them up to make consumer goods,'' said Shannon Bard, Aquapore president and CEO. ``We wanted to make a dent in the 270 million tires going into landfills (annually).''
After experimenting with other possible recycled rubber products, Bard discovered that soaker hoses made from recycled tires bonded with polyethylene were not only feasible but efficient.
``The concept of porous tubing has been around for a hundred years, but it wasn't done in this manner,'' he said. ``This (design) saves 70 percent of the water used with a sprinkler.''
Using polyethylene fits with Aquapore's environmental focus because it eliminates the need to use foam polyvinyl chloride, which produces chlorofluorocarbons, Bard said.
Aquapore uses 65 percent recycled material in the production of its soaker and sprinkler hoses-the maximum possible without damaging the quality of the hoses, he said.
``It doesn't fade and crack. From a quality standpoint, you can't beat it,'' Bard said.
But using recycled material is not cheap. In fact, it is more costly because the company must pay for transportation and cleaning of the materials, along with a collection fee, according to Bard.
Aquapore had help with its tire recycling mission earlier this year when the company held its first Tire Recycling Day in late April at two locations in suburburban Phoenix.
More than 900 tires were collected during the four-hour event. Several area residents arrived an hour early to drop off tires and get a free length of the firm's soaker hose, he said. Company officials hope to make it an annual activity.
Formed in 1981, the company has grown substantially. Initially, however, there was resistance from retailers. Companies were reluctant to push something that was ``made out of old tires,'' he said.
But once the recycling trend took off, Aquapore's hose business increased significantly.
``With the current water conservation and recycling issues, we've picked up. It was a case of lucky timing,'' he said.
The company serves the international retail market and has an 80-percent market share in the U.S. lawn and garden soaker hose segment, according to Bard.
Recently, the company expanded by acquiring licensing and distribution rights from Gardena, a German lawn and garden company.
Aquapore employs 130 at a 150,000-sq.-ft. facility in Phoenix. The rubber product manufacturer uses more than 850,000 tires annually to produce its soaker and sprinkler hoses.
The hose maker's parent firm, Alterra Holdings Corp., also owns California-based rubber matting maker Royal Rubber & Manufacturing Co.