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Design & Inspiration

The Sustainable Tile Factory

By Ted Ryan

The Sustainable Tile Factory

Sustainability is something you hear a lot about these days. With the climate emergency already showing its effects in the form of drought, fire, and an increase in extreme weather events, disproportionately affecting communities least responsible for the greenhouse gases that have led to their rise, it’s clear today (and for some time) that the way in which societies have operated since the Industrial Revolution has led to countless advancements, but sustainable it is not.

With denying the existence of the climate emergency in favor of shorter and shorter-term profits growing less and less permissible, corporations and governments are scrambling to convince a conscious public that the products we consume can coexist with nature for all time.

But what does sustainable mean when even oil companies are getting in on the buzz? At Fireclay Tile, we’re dedicated to doing sustainable manufacturing right.

Origins in Sustainability

Fireclay was founded in 1986 on the very principles that guide our ecological efforts today, that Tile could be made a better way. From manufacturing techniques to the scale of the global supply chain, we recognized early on that Tile, like most building materials at the time, was extremely environmentally intensive.

We set out to source materials and manufacture domestically where our customers lived, mitigating inbound and outbound emissions. We revolutionized recycling in the manufacturing process to save raw materials as well as water.

While the business community catches up to the trend, we’ve been proudly positioned to lead the effort of innovating and improving industries to tread more gently on the Earth. In an industry responsible for 22% of global C02 emissions, a radical approach to redefining our relationship with nature is the only path forward.

Meeting the Moment

Constantly advancing to meet the emerging crisis, we’ve come a long way since 1986. For our efforts on the environment and elsewhere, in 2015 we became the first Certified B Corp Tile company in the world, today scoring in the top 10% of all B Corps worldwide.

Today, our customers can boast that the Tile in their home is made in a factory electrified with 100% renewable energy. They know 100% of the scraps and water used to make the Tile is recycled back into our manufacturing line. They know their sustainable Tile qualifies for industry-leading certifications, including LEED. And they know they are making sustainable renovations using carbon-neutral tile.

Tile Shown: Our ceramic tile in an array of colors

In order to balance so-far-unavoidable emissions making Tile, we offset 100% of all scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions and were certified Climate Neutral in 2019. In the last three years, we’ve reduced our emissions by more than 50% by optimizing our efficiency and kiln use.

Similarly, for the limited products not made in our Aromas Factory, we ensure our partners are equally committed to best practice manufacturing with mindful attention paid to their environmental impacts.

And we make sure we give back. For every dollar of Brick we sell, 1% goes to the National Parks Conservation Association, to protect our fragile landscapes for the next generation to steward and enjoy.

Where We Go From Here

These are important measures we’re proud of, but for all our work and recognition there is still much to do to reach a carbon-free future.

From installing on-site solar, continuing to shorten the distances we source materials from, to innovating new ways to recycle heat from our kilns to heat our facilities, we have lots of aspirations nearly within reach. We keep ourselves on the cutting edge of progress because it’s what we’ve been dedicated to doing all along.

By the end of this year, we are projecting to qualify for Zero Waste certification, which will be measured by a third-party audit to keep us truly accountable.

Transparency is the key to accountability with all of this. For that reason, we publish the fine print on our operations, identifying key figures and areas for improvement. It’s crucial for our efforts to be ultimately judged by the public in order for you to make conscious purchases and continue pushing us to do our best.

What’s at Stake

We’re proud to give our customers this peace of mind. But really, the reasons for our effort go beyond their satisfaction. We’re doing this for our entire global community because, simply, everything’s at stake.

Tile Shown: Mini Star and cross in Vintage Leather

From topsoil to the lithium powering the phone or laptop you’re reading this on, our resources must be treated as the precious and limited gifts they are. If we act now and act with the urgency and seriousness this moment calls for, we can sustain a way of life that is harmonious with our Earth, and Fireclay is committed to doing just that.

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