Italian design has become synonymous with quality, innovation and craftsmanship. But with the climate crisis looming large, brands have been forced to adapt to ensure this legacy can endure for years to come. Under the Ceramics of Italy banner, the country’s tile manufacturers have been at the forefront of this sustainability imperative. The organization’s five pillars — process, people, products, projects and planet — span the supply chain to create truly sustainable offerings. And, most importantly, resources about these efforts have been made available to the public, helping consumers and designers make informed decisions when specifying products.
Though Ceramics of Italy just recently launched its sustainability campaign, the industry has been investing in environmental and social sustainability for decades. Yet, this information is often conveyed using scientific terminology and data that is difficult for non-experts to understand. Instead, Ceramics of Italy harnesses clear and simple language to make these concepts more accessible.
Its eco-conscious approach begins with raw materials. In order to preserve biodiversity, the industry sources materials responsibly, ensuring they are not extracted from protected areas within the European Union. That said, Ceramics of Italy is committed to reducing unnecessary virgin material extraction in the first place — instead of being sent to landfill, 100 per cent of waste products are reused in production, reducing the industry’s consumption of natural resources by 9.3 per cent (the equivalent of 600,000 tonnes of clay, feldspars and other materials from 1998 to 2019).
Even once fired, product rejects can be broken down and re-integrated into the production cycle. But the industry isn’t just focused on reducing its own waste. In 2020, technological innovations enabled Italian ceramics manufacturers to recycle waste from other industries as well. Conserving water is another major priority within the industry: 99 per cent of wastewater is purified and reused in ceramic tile production plants, reducing the risk of groundwater pollution to a negligible level. Ceramics of Italy brands are also focused on decarbonization, minimizing natural gas use in the firing process and utilizing rail instead of auto transport to lower CO2 emissions.
These investments in sustainable production offer substantial benefits. Made exclusively from natural materials, Italian ceramics are both a healthy and hygienic choice. Not to mention, the products’ durability makes for a lifecycle upwards of 50 years, leading to even less waste. These qualities make Italian ceramics a natural fit for projects seeking to achieve sustainability credentials such as LEED, BREEAM and Well credits — which are now becoming standard practice. Whether incorporating them into ventilated facades, flooring, walls, kitchen countertops or even outdoor spaces, the applications for ceramic tiles are nearly endless.
The Italian ceramic tile industry continues to strive for improvement in accordance with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s Cersaie tile fair will highlight new launches that foreground these efforts. But, Ceramics of Italy recognizes that sustainability does not begin and end with the environmental impact of its products. The organization places a strong focus on community engagement, establishing partnerships with schools and research centers and creating opportunities for networking.
Social sustainability, too, remains top of mind. First and foremost, Ceramics of Italy is dedicated to ensuring that the industry is attractive to both current and prospective employees. By creating a safe work environment and implementing corporate welfare practices such as flexible working hours and opportunities for professional development, Ceramics of Italy is poised to grow and innovate for decades to come.
This content was published by Azure on behalf of Ceramics of Italy.
The Italian tile industry is leading the way with products that prioritize both aesthetics and the environment.