KBB - June/July 2009 - (Page 44)

Green Scrap Material When it comes to recycling, all glass is not created equal Recycled glass products have become a mainstay of green kitchens and baths. However, as with most things in life, all recycled glass is not the same. “Recycling is a big word,” said Johnny Marckx, executive VP of Oceanside Glasstile, a glass tile manufacturer in Carlsbad, CA. “When you are discussing products and their specific attributes and benefits, it’s important to differentiate because there’s a wee bit of greenwashing out there.” Of course, there’s the difference between post-industrial and postconsumer recycled glass. The former refers to the scraps that result from an industrial process, such as the broken or leftover pieces of glass that one might find at a window plant and which haven’t “had a life unto themselves,” said Marckx. The latter describes glass that has reached the end of a lifecycle as a consumer product, like a glass bottle or a window, and is destined for a landfill. Ultimately, both divert waste material from landfills, but products made with post-consumer recycled content “is worth twice the value with regard to the USGBC’s LEED system,” noted Jennifer Ryan, of Coverings ETC. percentage was significantly higher in Western Europe, ranging from 46% to 95%, according to FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation. Coverings ETC’s Bio-Glass; background: Oceanside Glasstile’s Casa California Blink MOVING ABROAD For European companies such as Cosentino, the higher recycling rate translates into greater access to quality raw material, which is crucial to the manufacture of its new ECO line of eco-friendly surfaces. Comprised of 75% post-industrial and post-consumer recycled material, the product is available in the U.S., but the amount of raw material needed is such that, for now, it can only be made in Europe—despite the increased carbon footprint related to its transportation, which the company addresses in other ways. “There simply isn’t the quantity of raw materials available in the U.S. to manufacture ECO on such a mass scale,” said Valentin Tijeras, director of product research and development at Cosentino. Miami-based Coverings ETC has also chosen to produce its Bio-Glass surface material in Europe primarily for the same reason. Because BioGlass is made from 100% post-consumer recycled glass and nothing else, its fabrication depends on having access to large quantities of raw material that’s well processed and well color-sorted, an endeavor at which Europeans seem to do better. In addition, the company has been able to avoid adding binders like resins or cement by heating the glass to a specific temperature at which it holds together by itself. The result is “pure glass,” said Ryan, which also means that it’s 100% recyclable. IN THE RAW Some companies incorporate both types of recycled glass. Oceanside Glasstile, for example, uses roughly 70% or more recycled content in many of its top-selling colors; 40% is post-consumer, while 30% is the company’s own scrap material. According to Marckx, different colors require different formulas, which means different percentages. The formulas are also calibrated to accommodate the slight inconsistencies in post-consumer content, which comes from local curbside recycling programs and consists primarily of 95% pure, or clear, glass with the remainder being a mix of green and brown bottles. “That’s always the challenge for large-scale manufacturing,” said Marckx. “How do you deal with raw material that’s not always consistent but is a big percentage of a formula? How do you keep the colors correct?” Lack of consistency and quality is a real issue, as more communities in this country move toward single-stream recycling, noted Connie Kunzler, who consults with the Glass Packing Institute on its recycling initiative. With single-stream recycling, all recyclables—glass, plastic and metal containers, as well as paper—are collected in one bin, which makes life easier for consumers, but harder on companies that need high-quality cullet for their products. The chances of breakage and cross-contamination increase, and technologies for separation, though improved, are costly. Which may explain why, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, of the 13.6 million tons of glass in the municipal solid waste stream in 2007, only approximately 24% was recovered for recycling. This USING WHAT’S THERE One company, however, has found a way to incorporate postconsumer mixed-color, contaminated glass into products designed for use in bathrooms. Avon, NY-based Monroe Industries, a veteran of the cast polymer industry, recently launched Robal Glass, which encapsulates finely crushed recycled glass in a soy-based resin and finishes it with a marine-grade gel coat. According to Bonnie West, VP of Monroe Industries, encapsulation allows the company to use glass that has been cleaned, but may still contain a few dirt particles and bits of paper and plastic. The resin can be tinted to produce a variety of colors and the finished product is offered with a smooth or slightly textured surface. Monroe Industries is currently focusing on the bathroom sector, but plans to expand to the kitchen in the near future. Speaking of which, what does the future hold? While single-stream recycling may be the trend, the news isn’t all bad. “I know things are getting better,” said Ryan, “because I get calls all the time from people wanting to sell me recycled glass.” s —Alice Liao 44 + K BB June/July 2009 / www.kbbonline.com / The Official Sponsor of K/BIS www.kbis.com http://www.kbbonline.com http://www.kbis.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - June/July 2009

KBB - June/July 2009
Contents
Online Contents
Online News
Editorial
Focus
Trends
Products
Profile
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Design
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Grand Master
Green
Access
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Education
Opinion
Editorial Index
Ad Index
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