Every so often things just work out. For us at Fireclay Tile who deal with locally sourced recycled materials, that is not always the case. For years we would trudge from place to place, asking for scrap materials that we thought might be useful for our tile, generally getting dismissed for being small and artistic. Many years later, though, our Debris Series Recycled Tile is the most sustainable ceramic tile in the world, and features more recycled material than anything else out there.
Today we announce a new initiative whereby we will start to incorporate recycled waste porcelain into our Debris Series tile. Our Recycled Tile will now feature over 70% recycled materials with the addition of landfill-bound recycled porcelain, including over 50% post-consumer recycled materials. This is tremendous when thinking about LEED Credits for interior surfaces. Working closely with the San Francisco and San Jose city recyclers, we will be initially offsetting the landfill of over 150 tons of porcelain waste. As many of you already know, Fireclay Tile has been incorporating similar local Bay Area recycled materials into its custom handmade ceramic tile for the past 15 years including recycled waste glass, recycled waste granite dust, and spent abrasive materials.
Let's take a quick trip to study how this is going to work!
First: Waste porcelain ends up in landfill. Here is a photo of Zanker Road Recycling Center in San Jose
Second: Porcelain is seperated and collected for recycling. This includes bathtubs, vanities, and toilets.
Third: Recycled porcelain is collected for shipment to Fireclay Tile
Fourth: Recycled porcelain is delivered to Fireclay (VIDEO!)
Fifth: Recycled Porcelain is crushed and then mixed with our other recycled materials
When we compare our original 60% Recycled Debris Series with our new over 70% recycled materials containing the porcelain, there is little to no difference. We've worked hard to achieve this consistency, and can't wait to roll this out in 100% of our Debris Series tile. Wondering which of these contains the recycled porcelain? We'll keep it a secret...
Working closely with managers from both San Francisco and San Jose recyclers for the past twelve months, Fireclay Tile and the two organizations have been successful at identifying porcelain-based products for this endeavor, setting those aside and storing them, and setting up a transportation and grinding operation to successfully deliver to Fireclay’s Northern California factory usable material ready to immediately be incorporated into Fireclay’s ceramic tile. Ken Stewart, the operations manager for Recology in San Francisco, has helped reclaim more than 30 tons, and Michael Gross from Zanker Road Resource Management LTD in San Jose has helped reclaim over 120 tons of recycled porcelain materials. In just twelve months well over 150 tons have been set aside, and the organizations intend to continue this effort indefinitely. Fireclay Tile also hopes to partner with other municipal waste providers for a similar effort, as 100 tons will only last the company roughly eight months.
Zanker Road Resource Management
“I’m a scavenger by nature. I guess it’s just part of my DNA. Ever since I was young I loved taking things, mixing them together, and seeing what I could create,” said Paul Burns, Fireclay’s Founder and Chief Ceramicist. “For the past fifteen years my mission at Fireclay has been to maintain the beauty and high quality of our ceramic tile while offsetting local Bay Area waste materials. When I first started approaching people to see if I could purchase their waste materials they thought I was crazy. Now that we have demonstrated success, those conversations have become easier.”
Manufactured in Northern California, Fireclay Tile’s recycled tile products, including the Debris Series and Express Series, will now feature over 70% locally sourced recycled materials. These materials include recycled waste glass made up of bag-house dust collected from Strategic Materials in San Leandro, recycled granite dust from Granite Rock, recycled spent abrasives leftover from cleaning the Hetch Hetchy water pipes that transport water to the City of San Francisco from Yosemite Valley, and now recycled porcelain from San Francisco and San Jose. All products are handmade within Fireclay's day-lit, open air factory where the company reuses everything including clays, glazes and waste water. The result is a beautiful, unique ceramic clay body containing more post-consumer and pre-consumer waste than any other tile on the market.
For a truly wonderful article about this initiative please check out the San Jose Mercury's exploration for Paul, our Founder, and Fireclay Tile: San Jose Tile Maker Reclaims Landfill-Bound Porcelain
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