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Wal-Mart to recycle tires into mulch

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart stores announced it will be recycling used tires into rubber mulch, which it will make available in its Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores this week.

The retailer will recycle approximately 2.5 million tires in 2008 to manufacture the eco-friendly Majestic rubber mulch mini nuggets, which the company said is ideal for landscaping and covering play grounds, pools and pond areas.

“We know consumers want to make the most of their time at home this spring and summer, and we want to provide them with product offerings that help create a safe outdoor family environment at the best value,” said Andy Barron, senior vp and general merchandise manager for Wal-Mart. “Our process of recycling millions of used tires into rubber mulch products is yet another way to help our customers live better while also helping the environment.”

The company said the Majestic rubber mulch joins rubber garden edging and tree rings already available at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club — all made from 100 percent recycled tire rubber. In addition, gardeners can find environmentally safer pesticides and plants in biodegradable pots.

Forest Stewardship Council-certified Home Trends outdoor furniture pieces as well as solar powered outdoor lighting will also be available at Wal-Mart and SamOs Clubs this spring.

Wal-mart said the new recycled products are another step in the company’s ongoing commitments to reaching its zero-waste goal and providing access to affordable eco-friendly products.

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Outdoor power equipment category sees resurgence

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The backyard shed is getting a makeover. The marquee categories of spring season outdoor power equipment (leaf blowers, pressure washers, mowers and trimmers) are seeing changes on two major fronts: type of features and channels of distribution.

The mass channel is seeing resurgence in outdoor power equipment (OPE) activity. Particularly in pressure washers, up year-over-year from 5.7 percent share to 11.0 percent share; and riding mowers, up from 4.0 percent to 8.0 percent. Across the major categories, mass merchants gained 2.8 percentage points.

The NPD Group attributes that gain to the mass channel’s ramped up merchandising efforts around the categories, as well as their related merchandising efforts around outdoor living in general, including outdoor fire pits and outdoor furniture.

“The other factor is the 18- to 34-year-old consumer seems to prefer the mass merchants,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement. “And they represent the demographic that is increasingly moving into home ownership.”

Given the steady stream of green promotions at retail, gas-powered products are seeing a plateau or decline in popularity, based on the consumer research — though the combustion engine continues to dominate the walk-behind mower category. Among riding mowers, the zero-turning-radius mower is the new kid on the block, accounting for almost a quarter of units sold in 2007. Zero-turn share has grown from 18.5 percent in 2006 to 24.0 percent in 2007.

“Home owners are increasingly looking for professional grade equipment,” said Delaney. “Zero-turning radius mowers have traditionally been used by pros and have now caught on with consumers in a big way.” It doesn’t hurt that “zero-turn” prices have come down significantly, he said.

The data also suggests that the wealthy OPE customer isn’t the powerhouse demographic, compared to other sectors. The $100K and above segment is handily outspent by the $45K to $74.9K segment.

“That stands to reason,” said Delaney. “The higher income bracket usually has pros take care of their landscaping for them.”

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Caterpillar launches pilot at Home Depot

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Caterpillar, the Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturer of construction, mining and industrial equipment, has begun a test of its rental outlets with Home Depot in Texas, according to a report in Rental Equipment Register. The online publication reported that more Home Depot test locations will be added this year, although few other details were available.

Home Depot did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

Currently, there are more than 1,600 independently run Cat Rental stores throughout the world, offering construction-related equipment and specialty tools. Caterpillar has stated it would like to grow that number by more than 550 locations over the next three years.

Home Depot operates its own equipment and tool rental departments in approximately 1,200 of its stores. According to the company’s Web site, Home Depot’s rental outlets have more locations than any other tool rental company in the United States.

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