Environmental Sustainability & the Tile Industry
Ceramic Tileworks understands that being committed to the environment is an important and ongoing mission. We continue to work towards implementing systems and processes that make us a better company in regard to the environment.
Ceramic and Porcelain tile is made using 100% plentiful, natural materials (clay, feldspar, quartz). The reputable Italian and US factories with which we do business have merged technological expertise, innovative design, and a commitment to environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices.
Italian factories are governed by the most stringent environmental legislation anywhere in the world. Therefore, they use manufacturing technologies with lower environmental impact and also develop products that deliver excellent ecological qualities. Legislative requirements control raw material utilization, anti-pollution production devices, post-industrial recycling, air quality, and the use of recycled materials for product packaging.
Italian tile industry environmental standards are certified thru ISO 14001, EMAS and the European Union Ecolabel. The number of tile collections achieving the Ecolabel have increased due to United States distributors, specifiers, and end users demanding product identification for products being produced using high environmental standards.
The tile industry understands that ecology is not just good intentions but a practical issue of the industry. They focus on the following important elements.
Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA)
This cradle to grave product analysis is important in the tile industry. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of ceramic tile as a finishing material ranks the highest expected life and lowest cost per square foot /year of all floor covering types. The U.S. Green Building Council is evaluating how it will integrate life cycle assessment in the LEED certification program.
Certification of product – Ecolabel
The European Ecolabel system was established in 1992 and in 2002 the hard floor covering product group was established. It is a very stringent evaluation process where the manufacturer requests validation of their compliance to very high environmental impact standards for the production of a specific collection line. As more end consumers demand this information, more manufacturers will undergo this certification process. In the past, certified products have been primarily architectural products being specified for commercial use. A product with the Ecolabel label has received the highest certification available in Europe.
Ecolabel Certified Collections
EMAS and ISO 14001 are certifications that European tile manufacturers achieve by commitment and compliance to environmental manufacturing production plans and processes.
Almost all Italian tile products contain a least 10% pre-consumer recycled content due to government regulations that require efficient manufacturing processes. These processes recycle wastewater and raw materials back into the production cycle. Many products can contain 25 to 40% per-consumer recycled content. Manufacturers are also developing products using post- industrial recycled materials. At their domestic factory, Iris, our supplier for domestic product, is developing product with high-recycled content and is working with LEED how to certify this information.
A very important element to the overall issue of sustainability is in design. Buildings with ceramic or stone are built to last a long time. The design of the product and the project must be good so when married to all the positive physical attributes of tile the outcome is environmentally friendly and cost effective. As a distributor we look at the fashion of tile but also the long-range design potential of any line we choose to distribute. Tile consumers expect their tile installation to last and design is important.
Laticrete is our installation material supplier. They are the reputable leader of green installation products with many materials qualifying for LEED points. One example is a new product, 125 Sound and Crack adhesive, comprised of 30% post-consumer recycled material.