From their captivating translucency, to a brilliant array of colors and shapes that bring fun into functional, recycled glass tiles are no less than works of art. It’s easy to go green when the result is purely gorgeous. But the beauty of this building material is much more than skin deep.
Ecological Impact of Glass Production
The process of creating glass from raw materials has an incredible environmental impact. According to a report by Kesab Environmental Solutions, a ton of glass made from raw materials creates about 845 kilograms of mining waste, and that’s just to get the process started.
The next step is turning the raw materials into the finished product. Combining sand, soda ash, limestone, dolomite and feldspar, and then heating the whole concoction in an oven that reaches an excess of 27,300ºF, cooling it and heating it over again, emits a phenomenal amount of greenhouse gases. Some experts calculate that sum to be as high as twice its weight in CO2, that’s two tons of carbon dioxide per one ton of glass!
According to WasteOnline (www.wasteonline.org.uk), an organization based out of the UK, one ton of recycled glass saves roughly 315kg of carbon dioxide. Using only 50% of the energy necessary to produce their virgin cast-glass counterparts, recycled glass tiles have a much smaller carbon footprint right from the beginning.
Indoor Air Quality
Because glass is inert, it will not leach harmful chemicals into the air. Unlike stone products, such as granite, concrete, and gypsum, glass tiles do not emit any radon. While it’s up for debate whether or not the amount of radon naturally occurring in these earth-based materials is harmful to our health, it’s best to steer clear until the verdict is conclusive. You can do that by going with glass.
The True Recyclable
Unlike paper and many metals, which lose their integrity after a number of recyclings, glass can be recycled indefinitely without becoming unstable. Even plastics have their pitfalls, because most plastics can only be down-cycled, meaning they can only be converted to a lesser form. Glass, however, retains its durability, color, and composition even after a plethora of recyclings, and can go from a bottle to a block to a marble without a problem.
While there’s no comprehensive list of recycled glass tile suppliers, a simple web search will give you a lot of different options, most of which showcase photos demonstrating the versatility of this eco-friendly material. From polka-dotted mosaic tiled bathroom floors, to iridescent pearl back splashes that reflect the sun’s light, this is one environmentally friendly product that holds up to contemporary stylistic standards.
Shopping for Tiles
Recycled glass tiles can be composed of 30% to 100% post consumer recycled glass, so it’s always important to check out the company you’re buying from. When doing your research, make sure to look at sustainable production practices and origin of materials as well as recycled content.
Fireclay’s Crush 100% Recycled Glass Tile is true to its name, using all post-consumer recycled glass in its product. The company is also committed to innovations in eco-friendly production processes. Located in San Jose, California, it sources its materials less then twenty miles away and is also committed to recycled and earth-friendly shipping.
Interstyle’s Agate line is a beach-glass shaped tile that is made entirely from post-consumer recycled glass. The company also carries other recycled tiles, such as the Opal Mosaics, which are made from a smaller percentage of recycled glass.
While some of the tile options are more organic in shape than others, all have slight discrepancies, bubbles, and variations caused by the production process. This doesn’t make them defective, it just makes them charming, eco-friendly, functional bits of art for your home!