‘Waste tyres are not wasted tyres’

‘Waste tyres are not wasted tyres’

ROMA – “Waste tyres are not wasted tyres,” says Malefane Tšephe, a National University of Lesotho (NUL) graduate who believes car tyres’ fate should not be the dumpsites in the first place.
“We are making a whole new business out of waste tyres,” he says.
So his company is called Moss Tire Upcyclers.

“We take what would otherwise be hopelessly abandoned tyres and transform them into great products.”
He makes arm chairs, pool chairs, stools and couches out of waste tyres.
He makes flower pots, tables, sub-woofer speakers, toilet seats, and is even in the process of making floor tiles using waste tyres.
In the realm of the environment, upcycling is becoming a catch word.

The opposite of downcycling, it is about taking something of a lesser value (old tire) and making something of a greater value (an artistic arm chair).
“That is why we call ourselves upcyclers,” Tšephe says.
What is interesting is that a journey into the upcycling did not start with the intention to upcycle.
It started with him being just your customary retailer.

He has a shop where he sells agricultural supplies.
But, as usual, innovation comes when we least plan for it.
“With no intentions to establish a car tyre upcycling business, I once took four tyres, stacked them on top of each other and made them into a comfortable chair in my shop,” he reveals.
“There was nothing extraordinary, nothing artistic about the chairs, just a pile of stacked tyres over each other.”

“I would then sit over and allow my visiting customers to use it as well.”
Little did he know that, that was the beginning of the legendary.
“Customers liked it,” he says.

He could hear from their comments that there was something genetically comfortable about the waste tire chair.
So he decided to try something out.
“I took more tyres and made three more chairs. This time, the customers were more than just enjoying the sitting experience. “They wanted to buy. In fact, two of the three chairs were snatched away from me by a buyer.”

Maybe there was a potential in this business adventure after all, he thought.
But what would he do?
He transformed himself into a collector.

He collected more and more tires with the intention of further experiments.
Along the way something happened.
One really passionate buyer, a hotel owner, demanded four sets of products!
That is, four tables and sixteen chairs!
It was a shot in the arm because the customer was really, really willing to pay for those products.

Before then, “we relied mainly on a rudimentary equipment, after this purchase, we had enough money to buy very good equipment to help improve the speed and quality of our work.”
Speed became needed because theirs were products which were becoming popular by the day, and beating time was becoming increasingly necessary.
As far as the furniture industry is concerned, they decided on four lines of products.

They make rider arm chairs, the arms of which are made from old motorbike tires (you probably know that a motorbike is the dream of every “rider.”)
Then we have pool chairs.

“These are deployed in bars” and they provide a great leaning experience for those of you who just want to relax and have a good time, once in a while.
Their stools are quite interesting.
These ones you deploy mainly in the outdoor lawns, even as you enjoy a pretty summer breeze.
And then it is this one.
In the comfort of your home, few things will beat his waste tyre couches which rank among the most inviting of the products he has made.
Made from tractor or 4 by 4 tyres, “the couches are an evidence of a rare workmanship by the seasoned crafter,” said one bewildered admirer as she internalised the weave that is done with exceptional skill.
But that is not all.

“We make flower pots” which sold like hotcakes in the past NUL expo.
“They were taken away in no time.”
He also buys sub-woofer sound speakers and encapsulate them, not in your usual wooden boards but in upcycled car tires.
For a reason!

“Unlike wood, enclosing the sound speakers in tyres gives you a different experience of the sound.”
The sound is kind of deep, kind of uniquely entertaining as it seeps through the softness of the tyres, you know what we mean?
And the waste tyre floor tiles are his imaginary wonderland.

“Our tests have already proved that tire tiles are possible. We just need to have a lot of tires to achieve that.”
Imagine what that means.
Tyres are extremely insulating.
Many will bid goodbye to the literally freezing and frozen ceramic tiles.

“Even our toilet seat is made of car tyres. No one hesitates to visit the toilet in winter, the seat is warm.”
So Tšephe is making a plea to those who throw away tyres: “Send them to the nearest dump sites at Ha-’Mantšebo and we will pick them up.”
If you do, you will see, first-hand, your waste tyres being crafted into artistic marvels and you will know that waste tyres should never be wasted tyres.

Own Correspondent

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