Tires are becoming more advanced with fleets equipping their trucks with those that are designed specifically for the type of work their trucks perform, bringing new levels of efficiency, performance, and uptime to the industry.
By Robert Hamby

The waste and recycling industry has seen its share of ups and downs the last few years, with the pandemic causing significant issues that have yet to fully disappear. The strain on the supply chain has forced fleets to take a harder look at their vehicles and equipment, identifying areas of opportunity to extend the operation of their fleets. When reviewing equipment, you will likely find tires toward the top of the list—and for good reason. Without tires, fleets would be at a standstill and unable to perform their job. It is often overlooked when analyzing a vehicle’s performance, but it should be noted that tires are the only part of a truck that touches the ground. With this context, it is easy to understand why waste and recycling fleets across the country have put an emphasis on their tire program to ensure they are maximizing every vehicle’s output.

Another key development is the adoption of electric power sources and alternative fuels options. The continued high performance of these innovations combined with their positive environmental impacts have made them attractive to all fleets, but also bring new questions to the industry. These changes have forced regulators to review current guidelines and revisit how they inspect equipment standards. However, evolving vehicle changes or new regulations, one factor remains the same: every waste and recycling fleet needs tires to operate. This is why the industry is focused on manufacturing tires that keep trucks out on the roads amid the currently unpredictable industry landscape.

Selecting the Correct Tires
The waste application is very demanding with use both on road (twisting, turning, and high scrub) and off road in landfills (debris, damage) while carrying heavy loads. Waste tires are designed to handle this varied use with scrub-resistant, high-wear compounds and patterns while also providing other features such as sidewall protectors, wide belt packages, and bead technology to make them more durable. This durability is imperative as retreading is highly used in the waste
industry. Tire casings are expected to be retreaded several times, so this is a big factor in designing waste tires.

For high-scrub applications in some waste applications, tires must endure difficult conditions and keep up with fluctuations in acceleration. Waste fleets work on tight streets and alleys with little margin for error, forcing drivers to conduct frequent forward and backwards movement to get the job done. With urban fleets, the landscape is even more difficult when road debris and poor road conditions are added to the mix.

As tire technology continues to advance, tire manufacturers have worked to create products that meet the specific needs of the fleet. Improvements in compounding and pattern technology have allowed waste tires to significantly improve in wear, rolling resistance, load capacity, and durability while not sacrificing other features such as traction.
Not all trucks require the same tire attributes to perform the job efficiently, and not all trucks operate in the same conditions.

For example, tire needs of a long-haul commercial truck are different from a waste fleet. Long-haul trucks require tires that withstand hundreds of miles of day and offer a reduction in rolling resistance to improve fuel efficiency, while a waste truck is best served by tires that are durable to withstand damaging obstacles on the streets. This customization helps fleets get the most of out their investment and equip their trucks with tires ideal for their respective environment.

Maximizing Safety Through Regulations
When it comes to manufacturing a new tire for waste and recycling fleets, companies consider performance features that best suit the vehicle and comply with all commercial standards and regulations, just as with long haul/regional tires. Over the years, the design and composition of a tire has become more complex as manufacturing capabilities and technology has evolved. These new technologies and capabilities have allowed tire manufacturers to provide new levels of performance, safety, and overall quality to tires.

With each change to the tire design/production process or new materials being incorporated, manufacturers must adhere to the requirements set forth by federal regulations. The primary function of these requirements is to maintain high levels of safety out on the road for your vehicle and those around you. For the waste and recycling industry, the key requirement for tire performance and safety is proper tire pressure.

Like tread depth, tire pressure is incredibly impactful to a tire’s performance. When properly inflated, a vehicle’s tires enhance road safety, extend the tread life, and improve fuel economy and handling while driving. Each tire has a recommended air pressure that accounts for the type of vehicle it was designed for, the workload it will likely experience, and outside elements that raise and lower the temperature of the rubber.

Bringing Durability and Convenience to Fleets
Although fleets are feeling the equipment pinch, advancements in tire technology and digital resources have provided waste and recycling businesses room to breathe. Modern premium tires incorporate new innovations designed to bring more durability and increased retreadability to the tire, regardless of the vehicle and application. Tire manufacturers hone in on challenges experienced by fleets and create products that tackle those challenges and increase uptime.

For many, tire design has evolved to incorporate more features and higher payload that protect the structure and extend the tire’s life. A significant feature that continues to evolve in the waste and recycling industry is the casing design. Because of the function of these trucks, load capacity has increased to provide higher payload and increase retreadability for today’s environment.

When it comes to increased protection, features such as stone rejectors, wide belt designs, protector ribs, and cooling technology are also being incorporated into waste and recycling tires to enhance durability. Stone rejectors and wide belt designs work hand-in-hand with deep tread tires to offer additional protection from stone and road debris to the tire belt and casing. Rejectors in all grooves help to prevent trapped stones from pushing into the tread groove and piercing belt layer to increase retreadability of the casing. Wide belt designs are excellent in improving puncture resistance and extending casing life while also enhancing retreadability. Precise features such as angled grooves and four rib patterns provide biting edges that help promote wet traction and create optimal footprints that fight irregular wear. From the tread to sidewall, protector ribs
assist with cuts, snags, and abrasions from curbs or abnormal road impacts. Lastly, tire engineers have developed innovative cooling technology that can be placed throughout the tire to keep it from overheating, providing tires with extended strength and durability during long stretches of operation.

Fleets are also increasingly leveraging retreading to extend the life of their premium tire casings, maximize uptime and help
reduce the environmental impact of end-of-life tires. In fact, waste vehicles can buy retreads at a higher rate than new tires and rely on tire manufacturers to smoothly facilitate the retreading process, lower costs, and optimize fleet performance. The renewable casing assets of waste fleets yield substantial environmental benefits and help fleets increase cost savings. Retreaded tires can make critical impacts to a waste fleet’s tire program as they maximize the performance of each tire.

In recent years, tire manufacturers have also developed accompanying tools that provide additional protection and insight into a tire’s health. Sensor technology that connects to cloud-based software has given fleets new knowledge into the performance of their truck’s tires and largely revolutionized tire maintenance. With data in hand, fleets can make informed decisions on their operation and maximize the life of every tire they purchase.

Tires will Remain at the Heart of Every Fleet
Regardless of the different innovations being brought to the mobility space or new regulations that could be implemented in the waste and recycling industry, tires will continue to play a pivotal role in the success of any fleet. Tires are becoming more advanced, and fleets can equip their trucks with tires that are designed specifically for the type of work their trucks perform, bringing new levels of efficiency, performance, and uptime to the industry.

One thing will remain a constant: tires will continue to be a critical driver of the success and one of the most impactful pieces of equipment for waste and recycling fleets. | WA

Robby Hamby is the Director of Commercial Product Strategy for Bridgestone Americas. Robby is responsible for Bridgestone’s Commercial product portfolio which encompasses four strategic business units (TBR&R, OTR and AG). For more information, visit