Ceramics are a safe choice for the environment. Made by combining fire, clay, and water, tiles are a natural material and do not give off harmful emissions. They are durable and resistant to sudden temperature changes, damp, and chemical and biological agents, offering a highly sustainable and lengthy life cycle. And, with their hardness and scratch resistance, tiles are an ideal choice for public spaces with high-traffic areas, looking pristine for many years to come.
And it is not just underfoot that the impact of tiles is felt; the construction industry has utilised ceramic tiles to create high-tech ventilated façades, as well as roofs and demonstrated that major energy savings can be made.
All these positive attributes are well known by industry professionals, but it is not always known that tiles can contain significant recycled content. As concern over the environment grows, Spanish manufacturers are looking closely at their production processes and many are working towards a circular economy. Part of that effort is to communicate effectively the life-cycle of their products to their customers. To this end the Spanish tile industry has developed a sector-specific ecological label known as an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) which has been registered under the GlobalEPD system of AENOR. The Association of Spanish Tile Manufacturers (ASCER) has taken a leadership role in the development process whilst the technical work has been done by the Institute of Ceramic Technology (ITC).
For the preparation of the EPD, ASCER and ITC have had the valuable collaboration of their member companies that have provided data about their Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). The participating companies (representing 40% of Spanish production) have contributed with all their inventory data, and the results obtained in this study are considered to be representative of the Spanish sector of ceramic tile manufacturers. Already some 40 Tile of Spain members have individual EPDs, making Spain the industry leader in obtaining EPDs in the European ceramic industry. A brand will hold EPDs s for its various materials, rather than generally as a company, so for example one leading manufacturer featured here holds three EPDs for its porcelain, its grès porcelain and its white-body ceramic. Each of these surface types, having been examined rigorously, has clear documentation that reveals its recycled content, which will vary for each type of ceramic, as well as its impact on the environment in a broader sense.
“Ceramics offer an inert and impermeable surface with zero VOCs, therefore making it not only a safe choice, but an environmentally-conscious choice. When choosing a material that offers ease of maintenance, occupant health and safety, environmental impact, and long-term return on investment, there is nothing better than ceramic tile,” underlines Ryan Fasan, Consultant, Tile of Spain.
Increasingly specifiers will need to be aware, not just of the technical performance of a surface, but also the ecological credentials of the tiles they are choosing. Customers of the future will be asking more questions, too, and no doubt introducing this label in their specifications for large public and private buildings as a requirement for ceramic coverings.
See the latest sustainable tile solutions from Tile of Spain’s members at Coverings 2020. At Coverings visitors will experience the latest tile and stone trends, meet industry peers, and gain valuable technical knowledge. Coverings 2020 will be held from 20th to 23rd April in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, January 2020.