Tire Production Can Cause Widespread Deforestation

Approximately 28% of the rubber found in a typical tire is a natural latex rubber that is extracted from rubber trees. In fact, tire production consumes 70% of the natural rubber produced worldwide. Growing demand for natural rubber can cause widespread destruction of rainforests if done unsustainably. This also puts immense pressure on smallholders who produce 85-90% of this unique commodity. Oftentimes, circumstances like these cause human and labour rights violations at rubber farms.

Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber

The number of vehicles on the road globally is predicted to double by 2050, so if nothing is done natural rubber and tire production will have a massive impact on the world’s tropical forests in the coming decades. Fortunately, a group of tire manufacturers led by Michelin, along with several car manufacturers, and NGOs such as the World Wildlife Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance have formed a partnership with natural rubber producers and processors to promote responsible sourcing of natural rubber. This partnership is called the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). Members of the GPSNR have committed to a set of 12 principles set out in the Founding Members Statement, and a set of policy components that specify their commitment to sustainable natural rubber production and purchasing policies.

Our Commitment to the GPSNR Policy Framework

Suburban Tire is the only independent tire dealer in the world that is a member of the GPSNR. As such, we have committed a wide range of commitments to the GPSNR Policy Framework, which includes the commitment that Suburban Tire will only sell tires manufactured by other GPSNR members. As a GPSNR member, we are committed to improving sustainability and livelihoods in the natural rubber value chain. From smallholder producers to natural rubber processors, tire makers and car makers to civil society organizations, we work with other GPSNR members on defining sustainability for the industry in fair and equitable ways.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

The tire you choose will have a big impact on your wallet and our planet! Some of today’s tires are being developed with Low Rolling Resistance technologies. Tires such as the Michelin ePrimacy ® or the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology might. These tires will probably cost a few dollars more up front but will save you money at the gas pump and reduce your CO2 emissions.

For example, Michelin’s ePrimacy boasts a 27% reduction in rolling resistance, resulting in $196 in fuel savings over 43,500 miles and a 174 kilogram reduction in CO2 emissions over the life of their tire. Plus, if you drive an electric vehicle, you’ll get a 7% increase in range. So even though tires are considered by some to be a commodity, our staff of veteran tire experts can help you choose a low rolling resistance tire for your car that will save you money in the long run.

Efforts to Reduce CO2 Emissions

For over a decade, Suburban Tire has been working on a variety of initiatives to reduce our environmental footprint, especially our CO2 emissions. It started with the building of our Hanover Park store in 2008 which was constructed to meet LEED Gold Certification standards for environmental efficiency. This store was built with solar panels above our front door, geothermal heating and cooling under the parking lot, and many other environmentally friendly features.

At our other stores, we have an ongoing initiative to decommission our old lighting systems and replace them with LED lights, and to replace our old-fashioned piston style air compressors with high efficiency air compressors. Just these two changes reduced our electrical use at our St Charles store by about half!

Responsible Recycling of Automotive Waste

Every tire that you leave with us is taken to a recycling facility in Montgomery Illinois, where they recycle and repurpose tires. Some of the tires are used for making industrial products such as bumpers for loading docks, but most are ground into very small pieces. Once the tires are shredded, a large magnet is used to remove the steel from the rubber crumb. The steel (shown in this picture) is recycled into beams and car parts, and the rubber crumb is used to make mulch and as a filler in asphalt.

Though tires are much of our waste stream, we also recycle these other items:

  • Motor Oil & Lubricants – Used in asphalt production and burnt in industrial boilers
  • Oil Filters – Recycled into steel products.
  • Antifreeze – Reprocessed into new antifreeze.
  • Car Batteries – 100% recycled in Lyons Pennsylvania by Deka Battery Company.
  • Scrap Metal – Recycled locally by several recycling entrepreneurs

Other Green Initiatives

We might be the “Gold Standard for Automotive Excellence in Chicagoland”, but we’re also committed to Green! Here are some of our other green initiatives:

Fundraising for Environmental Causes

For 2021, Suburban Tire will be raising funds in support of The Nature Conservancy in their efforts to expand the Nachusa Grasslands (seen to the left). This amazing reminder of what the “Prairie State” used to look like is a bit over an hour west of our store in St. Charles Illinois. Make the drive and you’ll see tallgrass prairies, rare plants and cactuses, and even a herd of bison. It’s open to the public anytime, but the best time to go is late October when the little bluestem looks like a sea of waving red steel. It’s truly spectacular!

Loaner Bikes and e-Bikes Courtesy of Sammies Bikes

Most folks who drop off their car for a few hours need a ride home or to work. For years we have offered a local shuttle and loaner cars for your convenience. Now we are also providing bicycles and e-bikes as an eco-friendly alternative form of transportation for when you drop off your car.

Suburban Tire and Sammies Bikes have partnered up to provide free bicycles and e-bicycles for your convenience. If you haven’t ever tried an e-bike, here’s your chance. They’re great! Even if you’re not in great shape, they’re an easy ride. They ride just like a normal bike but offer a bit of extra juice when you need it. Please phone in advance to use one and bring a helmet.

We Use Renewable Energy Credits

For over a decade, Suburban Tire has purchased green electricity from a secondary supplier. We’d like to think that the electrons we use to run Suburban Tire leave a windmill and flow through a few wires straight to our stores, but that’s not how it works. Along with the electricity we buy from the grid, we also purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

RECs were developed to give incentives to developers to build solar and wind farms to create carbon free electricity. For each megawatt-hour of electricity produced by a wind turbine or a solar panel, one REC is created. RECs are then traded in the energy markets and eventually bought by utilities, green electricity suppliers, and individuals trying to reduce their environmental impact. The RECs purchased by Suburban Tire ensure that renewable energy is being added somewhere on the grid.

Conversion to Hybrid and Electric Loaner Vehicles

As part of our commitment to minimizing our CO2 Emissions, Suburban Tire will be converting its fleet of loaner cars over to plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles. So, when an e-bike isn’t available, or the distance you need to travel is too far to bike, you’ll still have a green option to get you around.

We Produce Clean Energy for the Grid

The Suburban Tire in Hanover Park has 12 solar panels that are tied into the grid and run whenever the sun is up. On weekdays and Saturdays when we are open, we use most of this electricity to run our business, but when we are closed on “Sun”-days the solar panels are generating carbon free electricity and feeding it back into the grid. Since put into service in 2008, our solar panels have generated over 21,500 Kilowatt hours, enough electricity to run the average house in the US for about 2 years!

Our Family’s Commitment To Our Planet

When we were growing up, our Grandma was one tough cookie. Like so many of her generation she recycled everything and let nothing go to waste. She insisted that we separate cans, bottles, and paper into 3 recycling bins in the kitchen. Cans and bottles were brought to Kroger for 10 cents each, newspapers were given to the scouts for their paper drives, and kitchen scraps were composted by the local possum. If she needed something, she got it at a garage sale – no need for new. She even taught us to reclaim yarn from thrift store sweaters.

Grandma’s philosophy of caring for the planet by letting nothing go to waste was imprinted onto her grandkids and great-grandkids, and now we insist on doing the right thing for the planet at Suburban Tire also. That’s why we recycle everything we can, and do our best to mitigate climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible.

Green Up Your Car

Consider these popular add-ons when having your tires installed.

Go Green with Our Nitrogen Tire Inflation Service

Maintaining the proper air pressure in your tires is key to maximizing the life of your tires and reducing your vehicle’s CO2 emissions. Because it is a larger molecule that Oxygen, Nitrogen migrates through a tire up to 4 times slower that Oxygen. A tire filled with compressed air will typically lose about a pound of pressure per month, while a tire with Nitrogen will only lose a pound every 3 or 4 months. As a result, tires inflated with Nitrogen tend to last longer, and because they maintain proper air pressure for longer, they have better fuel economy which means clearer air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Get a Better Oil Change

When it comes time to get your next oil change, there are several things you can do to minimize your demand for oil, goose your fuel economy, and reduce your CO2 emissions:

  • Use a Full Synthetic Oil – It lasts longer and protects engines better, allowing your engine to run more efficiently for a longer period.
  • Use a Premium Oil Filter – You can go further between oil changes
  • Replace the Air Filter – Don’t wait till it’s clogged. Change your air filter regularly so that the engine breaths easier and runs more efficiently.
  • Use a Lower Weight Oil – Save 1% in fuel economy per weight level drop

Use Earth Friendly Brake Pads

Brake pads are another item that had been a cause of concern for environmentally minded folks. They traditionally had been made with a variety of heavy metals, asbestos, and various filers. California and Washington mandated a policy to remove the heavy metals and asbestos from brake pads as scientists had found that brake pad dust was washing into rivers after storms and killing fish.

In 2015, these two states, the EPA and most brake manufacturers reached agreement to remove the heavy metals and asbestos from brake pads. They started by removing asbestos, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium, which qualified the pad for an “A” rating. Then effective this year, all brake pads will be required to have a rating of “B” meaning they are made of less than 5% Copper by weight. By 2025 Copper levels will have to be down below 0.5% also, qualifying the pad to the Three Black LeafMark that designates “N” status. Though pads with both the B and the N status are available on the market, Suburban Tire uses only the “N” rated pads when available.

Get a Wheel Alignment

Wheel Alignments are an environmentally friendly service in two ways. First, they help your tires last as long as possible, reducing demand for replacement tires that will consume more natural resources to produce. Second, keeping your vehicle in perfect alignment will reduce your tires friction with the road, improving fuel economy and reducing rolling resistance and CO2 emissions.

When you purchase a set of tires at Suburban Tire, we will inspect your old tires to see how they are wearing. If they are showing signs of wear due to the alignment being out of specification, we will check your vehicle’s wheel alignment. This free service is offered to reduce pollution, improve safety, and help you get the most mileage out of your tires. If your vehicle’s wheel alignment is out of spec, then we will show you the read out and offer to perform the wheel alignment service for you. To prevent premature tire wear, we recommend that you have your wheel alignment checked at least once per year, or if you ever feel the car is drifting or pulling to one side or the other.