With so much focus being put on all manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint, ceramic tile producers have taken the initiative with innovative programs and state-of-the-art techniques resulting in earth-friendly, high performance products.
According to Paul Young, general manager of Mediterranea, the use of natural minerals is key as the company’s porcelain tiles are manufactured in a “100% closed-loop process that recycles all remaining raw materials used in production, as well as all water used in the polishing line. Already, back in 2008, environmental efforts made by Mediterranea resulted in six million gallons of water and 12.5 tons of waste being recycled and reused in one year.
“In addition to our product being made of all natural minerals,” he explained, “Mediterranea uses locally supplied materials and has a great deal of the country covered with regard to LEED credit 5 for regionally sourced materials. Meditteranea also features up to 41% recycled content in several architectural porcelain lines manufactured at a 100% sustainable site.”
As far as its products are concerned, earlier this year the company launched its Dynamic HD Imaging program employing state-of-the-art machinery and plays a major role in Mediterranea’s closed-loop manufacturing process, Young said. “The innovation is on the process side, but in terms of the tile it provides incredible true-to-life details bursting with color on porcelain of any size or surface texture. Using digital injket printing technology, which uses spray nozzles to apply the graphic without ever touching the tile, we’ve manufactured Landscapes (slate-look) and American Naturals (hardwood-look) in unbelievably accurate replications.”
Florida Tile recently developed a new scrap tile crushing facility which allows more post-production fired tile than ever to be crushed for reintroduction into the body of tile made at its Lawrenceburg, Ky., facility. “This achieves two things simultaneously,” said Sean Cilona, marketing director. “First, our proprietary design and subsequent implementation will have a dramatic impact on the waste stream. Now, virtually all scrap tile can be diverted from landfills for use in our production facilities.
“Second, the nature of our process allows for all our tile lines to contain recycled content. This is important to designers, architects and builders, all of whom have an interest in a broader spectrum of tile with recycled content.”
Fired tile, especially porcelain, is one of the hardest materials on earth. For years tile manufacturers have struggled with ways to deal with fired tile scrap. That’s because crushing this material to reintroduce it into the production mix requires large capital investment and know-how.
“Previously, Florida Tile has successfully crushed and reused scrap wall tile and red body floor tile,” Cilona said. “Now, with the installation of our new crushing line, we have the capability of crushing and recycling not only those products as well as porcelain, but also virtually any scrap ceramic material and use it for content across all product lines.”
At Shaw Industries, the newest tile styles that the mill is introducing in 2011 “have the best of both worlds,” said Emily Morrow, director of color, style and design. That means natural beauty, dimension, character and colorations without the headaches. “It’s on a porcelain through-body tile, perfect for indoor or outdoor use, installs in large areas without the worry of a pattern repeat, and comes at a great value when compared to some of the natural stones.”
While not at liberty to discuss the proprietary processes of individual factories that supply Shaw with tile products, Morrow said the company does require third-party certification of any green claims from its manufacturers.
Speaking of certification, Crossville currently offers five products with SCS certification of its recycled content. These products include Ecocycle, Empire, Color Blox EC, Echo Rcycled Glass and Urban Renewal metal tile. All products manufactured by Crossville have also received FloorScore certification.
“We are continuing to promote our Tile Take Back program,” said Laurie Lyza, director of marketing. “This not only allows us to recycle our own fired waste, it allows us to take back tile that was previously installed and make product with post-consumer recycled content.”
Lyza said Crossville is beginning to see a wide range of specifications that include the Tile Take Back program. “We expect the program to continue to grow as word spreads and economic improvements spur remodeling projects.”