Looking for an environmentally friendly seat at your local park? Champlin Tire Recycling in Concordia, Kan., is one step ahead of you. For over 20 years, the company has manufactured picnic tables, trail benches, and park benches from recycled tires.
“We sell these tables all over the U.S., we process materials and buy materials, and we have our own manufacturing where we extrude and make basic component parts for picnic tables and park benches,” says Gary Champlin, ISRI chair and general manager of Champlin Tire Recycling. All of the company’s outdoor products are available at Back Atcha.
Parks in the company’s home state have purchased these tables through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s recycled tire grant program. The annual grants are awarded to municipalities and school districts across the state. They go toward funding safe surfacing at playgrounds, running tracks, picnic tables, and benches made from recycled tires. The grant aims to help divert tires from local landfills and stimulate the production of commercial products made from recycled Kanas tires.
In September 2020, Greensburg Park, in Greensburg, Kan., added a new picnic shelter with 10 tables for families and residents. In August 2021, new picnic tables were installed at Lewis-Young Park in Louisburg, Kan. Champlin Tire Recycling has provided recycled picnic tables for neighborhoods in other states with similar grant programs including Kentucky, Missouri, and Nebraska. Each table contains the equivalent of 20 passenger tires and 3,840 empty gallon plastic jugs like milk, orange juice, or tea containers.
“These are products people use every day. The rubber comes from car tires, and the polymer uses HDPE; it’s basically milk jugs,” Champlin says. “We take things people use every day and we’re able to bring turn them back into a product that you can still use every day.” The company buys plastic containers by the semi load, and regrinds them to create the products. The picnic tables should last for years to come. Their composition makes them durable, low maintenance, and weather resistant. “State parks are our company’s single largest customer,” Champlin says. “They buy more benches and tables than any other entity.”
Champlin Tire Recycling also manufactures and sells products for agricultural customers. In Concordia, the company offers livestock feeders made from turned-out tractor tires, as well as tractor and truck tire sidewalls for silage storage. “We’ll take a semi tire and cut the sidewalls, and those sidewalls become silo covers,” Champlin explains. “Dairy farms use tarps for their huge silage pits. The sidewalls hold down the tarps and keep them out of the wind.”
Proud to be the third generation working at a family-owned company that began in 1950 as a 24-hour truck stop, Champlin views the recycling industry as a relationship business. “Recycling is really a grassroots organization; there are large corporations, but there are also a lot of startup companies with their roots in the family,” he says.
Photos by Mark Haist, courtesy of Champlin Tire Recycling. Featured photo caption: Champlin Tire Recycling picnic tables in Rogersville, Ariz. Body photo caption: Champlin Tire Recycling picnic tables in Oswego, Kan.