Recycled glass countertops are a great way to get some "green" into your kitchen design while also adding style, and a nice modern touch. A recycled glass kitchen countertop is no more difficult to find than it's non-recycled equivalent. Recycled glass kitchen countertops are a specialty item and the price reflects this, as glass tops are close to the top of the price scale.
A lot of people are searching for more ways to recycle common items into their everyday lives, and the kitchen remodeling field has come on board. Countertops made from recycled materials are eco-friendly and most have credits towards a LEED certification.
Granites, and other natural materials have the side effect of the quarrying process. Quarrying some stones is invasive and requires the removal of the soil to get to the material, or requires tunneling deep into the earth.
There are two different styles of recycled glass kitchen countertops. The first is a solid piece of glass that has a high percentage of pre or post-consumer glass. Most of the glass used, or sold, these days has at least some recycled glass content. Glass is easily recycled and is a much cheaper way to produce glass products. It's not too difficult to find a recycled glass countertop.
The second style of recycled glass countertops is the terrazzo style. In this style countertop the glass is broken into smaller pieces and mixed in with either concrete or resin. The glass used for these tops are most often from roadside collected glass from collection day, and post-industrial waste from the demolition of buildings.
The terrazzo style recycled glass kitchen countertops are more eco-friendly than the solid glass tops because they don't have to melt the glass to form it.
Some of the cement in these countertops can also be made from recycled materials, fly ash (a by-product of burning coal) can also be an ingredient in cement. Making cement is a very machine intensive process.
There are a few advantages for recycled glass countertops using a resin binder rather than a cement binder. The first is the binder can be made from corn, a renewable resource.
The second advantage is resin bound countertops do not require sealing, and cement based binders do require regular sealing to prevent stains.
The resin countertops also are said to be more hygienic, the resins are more resistant to penetration from microbes, making them easier to disinfect if needed. If a cement based bound top is maintained properly, the hygienic properties are equivalent. Resin also allows for a very small amount of movement without cracking, where cement does not.
There are also some advantages of cement binders over resin binders. Cement can be recycled, where resins cannot. Cement is also a very common material, having the possibilities for more widespread recycling in the future.
Cement binders also has the advantage of being more cost effective. Cement based binders are also heat resistant, but the sealers may not be.
The prices of recycled glass countertops can be higher than granite, or other stone countertops.
Cosentino's ECO line of recycled glass countertops are made from 75% recycled content. These materials are from post-consumer and post-industrial waste to include mirrors, glass, stone scraps, porcelain, and the binder is made in part from corn oil. This countertop material does not require sealing as it's non-porous. This countertop can also gain points toward a LEED certification.
EnviroGlas is comprised of 100% recycled glass, porcelain, and their proprietary EnviroPOXY resin. This translates into an 80% recycled finished product. This countertop also does not require sealing, and will contribute to a LEED certification. EnviroGlas also makes flooring and landscaping materials from recycled glass.
UrbanSlabs are handmade from start to finish in Southern California. Their countertops are made from 100% recycled glass, 85% post-consumer and 15% post-industrial materials.This countertop is also LEED certified. The binder is made from a patent pending cement matrix. Their countertops come pre-sealed from the factory, and will require resealing on occasion. This material can also be used for shower panels, floor tiles, backsplash tiles, bathroom stall dividers, and for wall cladding.
Gilasi countertops are made in Chicago, in a day-lit factory to reduce electricity usage. The recycled content is 85% by weight, of which most of the glass cannot be recycled by other means. All of their raw materials are sourced locally, within 250 of their factory, and they also partner with Chicago's Waste To Profit Network. These tops come pre-sealed from the factory, but require regular sealing with a beeswax or carnuba wax.
Vetrazzo uses 100% recycled glass in the manufacturing of their countertops, making up 85% of the total material used. They use any and all glass they can get their hands on, from window panes to traffic lights. Vetrazzo also has a recycling program for their own products, if you at a later date decide remove their product, you can send it back to them and they will recycle it into something useful again. This is called cradle-to-cradle planning. These tops require regular sealing as the binder is cement based, and are LEED certified.
IceStone is located in Brooklyn, NY at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Their countertops are made from 100% recycled glass in a cement matrix. IceStone also uses a day-lit facility to reduce their electric usage. Their recycled glass countertops do not contain any petroleum-derived materials and are non-toxic. Since these tops are made from a cement based binder they do require regular maintenance. IceStone has recommendations on low VOC water based sealants that can be used on their countertops. IceStone surfaces are cradle-to-cradle gold certified.
Pental Granite and Marble has showrooms in Seattle, Fife, and Portland. These countertops from Pental are a solid sheet of glass, and not terrazzo. These are made from 100% recycled glass, are completely inert, and produce no off-gassing. Their white and light green slabs contain 100% pre-consumer content while the brown slabs are 100% post consumer glass.