Thinking about doing a kitchen remodeling job, especially after reading the guest post on green kitchens earlier this week? That post inspired me to seek out the ways in which recycled or repurposed materials could be used to create fabulous looking kitchens.
The most eco friendly products tend to be those made from recycled materials such as glass. It turns out that there are several manufacturers of the most beautiful recycled glass kitchen countertops you can imagine, all of which are durable and made almost entirely with both recycled glass and other repurposed materials.
These counters are so eco friendly, in fact, that they can be used to obtain credits towards LEED certification from the US Green Building Council for green building projects.
Using recycled glass countertops has the additional benefit of avoiding environmentally destructive quarrying practices used for extracting granite, quartz, and other materials used in ordinary countertops.
Here I feature five manufacturers that create some truly beautiful countertops, along with sample pictures. All of them are based or have major operations in America, providing valuable green jobs and minimizing environmental effects of transportation of materials. They have many different styles and colors, making it easy to find something just right for your kitchen.
The original recycled glass countertop company, Vetrazzo is the big kid on the block. Based out of Richmond, California, they have been called “a superhero of the countertop world” by Dwell magazine. For over a decade they have created dazzling surfaces that are comprised of 85% recycled glass that comes primarily from neighborhood curbside recycling programs. They also use post-industrial glass, windows, drinking glasses, automotive glass, reclaimed glass from building demolitions, and just about any other type of glass you can imagine. Their surfaces are strong, durable and as smooth as polished granite–and in fact are about equivalent to granite in heat resistance, care and maintenance. They need re-sealing every year or two.
2) ECO by Cosentino
This manufacturer, best known for its Silestone line, has its North American operations out of Stafford, Texas and makes the ECO line of recycled glass countertops with 75% recycled content. They carry the GreenGuard and Cradle to Cradle eco labels, which I consider to be highly meaningful as indicative of truly green building materials. They not only use glass, but other discarded and repurposed post-industrial and post-consumer products including porcelain, mirrors, crystallized ash, and stone scraps. Their resin is corn-based. The water used in their manufacturing process is 94% recycled. Any minerals they use come from quarries with sustainable practices including environmental restoration and prevention of emissions of harmful particles. These high performance counter tops resist staining, scratching and scorching very well. The material is non-porous, requiring no sealers.
Gilasi is based out of Chicago and uses 85% recycled content in its countertops. All materials needed are sourced locally, within 250 miles of the factory. Glass used is mostly waste from local businesses they have partnered with through Chicago’s Waste to Profit Network. Most of the glass they use cannot be recycled using traditional methods. Less porous than marble or concrete, Gilasi still does need occasional re-sealing with a wax-based formula. The material is heat resistant, although the sealant used may not be.
Icestone, from Brooklyn, New York, makes recycled glass kitchen countertops bearing the coveted Cradle to Cradle Gold certification. They use 100% recycled glass in a cement mix, and about 75% of the material is comprised of the recycled glass. The countertops contain no petroleum-derived materials. Twice as durable as marble, they require similar care and maintenance as regular stone, and do need yearly re-sealing. Icestone is heat resistant, but again the sealant might not be.
UrbanSlabs, based in Southern California, also uses 100% recycled glass in a cement mix. The glass is 85% from post-consumer glass sources, and 15% is post-industrial. The counter tops resist fading, scratches and stains. The material is very flexible yet strong and can be cast as thin as 3/4″ of an inch if needed, allowing for use in a wide variety of applications. It appears to require occasional re-sealing, though the website was vague on this point.