Environmental commitment and sustainability

Environmental commitment and sustainability

Sustainability has become a crucial aspect of today’s tile business, serving not only to comply with increasing regulations and market demands but also to actively contribute to environmental protection and public health. Specifically, in the tile and porcelain stoneware sector, it is crucial to adopt sustainable practices in order to reduce the ecological impact of producing and using these materials. Documents that address sustainability issues, such as the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), Health Product Declaration (HPD) and Minimum Environmental Criteria (CAM), are crucial tools for highlighting the manufacturers’ commitment to the environment and health. These certifications not only guarantee transparency and ecological responsibility but also assist consumers in making informed decisions by promoting products that meet strict environmental and public health criteria.

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Sustainability and advanced technologies

Sustainability documents such as EPDs, HPDs and CAMs highlight the commitment of companies to environmentally friendly and public health-conscious manufacturing and logistical practices. These tools not only ensure compliance with strict environmental standards but also provide transparency, enabling consumers to make informed decisions based on the sustainability of the products they purchase.

The Italian ceramics industry has demonstrated how technological innovation can be integrated into product evolution by adopting processes that meet and often surpass the most advanced regulatory requirements. Continuous investments have led to significant reductions in pollution levels, which fall well below the limits set by Best Available Techniques (BAT) and current regulations.

In terms of operational sustainability, companies have optimised the use of resources. A portion of the energy is generated on-site through cogeneration plants, and 100% of wastewater is recycled and reused in production cycles. 

After examining the significance of these documents as a whole, let’s now explore some of the main tools used to evaluate and certify the environmental impact and healthiness of ceramic products.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

The EPD is a voluntary declaration that serves as a valuable tool for manufacturers to allow stakeholders to objectively assess the environmental impacts of their products. Results are calculated using specific software, examining the product's entire life cycle (LCA): from raw material extraction to end-of-life recycling, including all intermediate stages. The data contained in the EPD is objective and verified. Common rules applicable to all manufacturers with the same product category (PCR) define the parameters to be analysed. The results of the LCA are verified by third-party entities in accordance with ISO 14025.

These results encompass various environmental impacts of the product, including greenhouse gas emissions, resource usage, effects on ecosystems, and water consumption. The first value required in EPD results is the total Global Warming Potential (GWP), expressed in kilograms of CO2 equivalent emitted per square metre of material.

It should be noted that all data provided in EPDs for tiling materials (including porcelain stoneware) are based on 1 square metre of the product. When comparing numbers across different EPDs, it is essential to precisely identify the reference thickness for which the EPD is calculated and the reference service life (RSL) of the material. Porcelain stoneware, for instance, typically has a service life of 50 years, exceeding that of most other materials with a comparable function. For example, LVT has a reference service life of 25 years, meaning that all environmental impacts of LVT would need to be doubled (i.e. multiplied by 2) in order to consider a period of use of 50 years.

Companies that offer EPDs show they care about their stakeholders by providing a valuable tool for assessing the sustainability of their products. EPDs are also essential for professionals working on LEED-certified construction projects, as they give detailed information about a product’s environmental impact and allow for easy comparison with other products. Therefore, EPDs are now more crucial than ever, as green building practices become more important in driving the development of new projects.

Health Product Declaration (HPD)

The Health Product Declaration (HPD) is a self-declaration made by manufacturers which discloses the ingredients in their products, promoting transparency. By sharing this information openly, manufacturers help users understand any potential health risks associated with the product’s ingredients.

The HPD helps builders, architects, and designers evaluate products based on the presence of hazardous chemical substances. This guides them in choosing safer materials for indoor environments, which is especially important in settings like schools, hospitals and homes, where indoor air quality greatly affects occupant health.

The presence of an HPD not only boosts a brand's trust and credibility but also meets the increasing demands of markets and consumers for greater transparency and environmental responsibility.

CAM Certification

In tile production, adhering to the Building Minimum Environmental Criteria (updated in 2022 and effective from 2024) is crucial for ensuring products meet high standards of environmental sustainability.

These Minimum Environmental Criteria (CAM) are defined in the Green Public Procurement as “the environmental requirements defined for the various stages of the purchasing process, aimed at identifying the best design solution, product or service from an ecological point of view along the life cycle.

The systematic and consistent application of these criteria allows wider adoption of environmentally sustainable products and produces a leverage effect on the market, inducing less environmentally friendly operators to meet the new demands of public administration. This push prompts them to upgrade their production processes with more advanced eco-sustainable technologies.

To comply with the latest regulations on green public procurement, ceramic companies must obtain the updated CAM certification. This certification is essential when bidding for design services and projects involving the construction, renovation, and maintenance of public buildings in Italy.

This certification focuses on various sustainability aspects within the production process of porcelain stoneware. These include the extraction of raw materials, the presence of heavy metals, water consumption and use, emissions to air and water, and waste management. The requirements for CAM compliance are in line with those necessary for obtaining the European Union’s Eco-Label.

This approach not only aligns with the principles of ecological sustainability and the circular economy but also promotes production efficiency and minimises environmental impact.

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Keope and the ongoing commitment to green performance

Ceramiche Keope, a leading manufacturer of porcelain stoneware tiles, is dedicated to maintaining high environmental and sustainability standards in its production practices. Keope has adopted processes that significantly reduce the consumption of natural resources and CO2 emissions. This is made possible through energy cogeneration systems and the complete recycling of wastewater. Additionally, the company uses packaging made from recycled materials, showcasing its virtuous cycle of sustainability.

Keope’s commitment to the environment is confirmed by several internationally recognised certifications and declarations. The most relevant are:

  • CAM (2024): ensures compliance with the Minimum Environmental Criteria for Buildings required by the Italian Government. Ceramiche Keope is among the first in the sector to achieve this certification

  • HPD: self-declaration regarding the possible impacts on health and the environment of a product. Ceramiche Keope’s declaration, relating to its production of porcelain stoneware, affirms that the composition of Ceramiche Keope’s porcelain stoneware products contains no harmful materials. It also provides links to Keope’s recommendations on how to process, lay, maintain and clean porcelain stoneware.

  • EPD: describes the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle. With the 2024 update, Ceramiche Keope now provides separate EPDs for the main thicknesses available in its extensive catalogue: 6mm, 9mm and 20mm. The results contained in Ceramiche Keope’s Environmental Product Declarations highlight the company’s recent commitment to environmental sustainability. The GWP A1-A3 values (attributable to Keope as the manufacturer) are clearly better (a lower carbon footprint per square metre) than both Keope’s previous EPD and the industry EPD published by Confindustria Ceramica. 

  • ISO 17889: certifies the environmental sustainability of products and production processes. Keope was the first Ceramic tile to obtain this certification in 2022.

  • PEF (Product Environmental Footprint): Assesses the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle.

  • LEED: certifies the conformity of products to sustainable building standards.

  • WELL: certifies that the products contribute to indoor environmental well-being.

  • FDES: like the EPD, evaluates the environmental and health impacts of products throughout their life cycle. Ceramiche Keope is currently in the process of renewing this certification.

This ongoing commitment not only reduces Ceramiche Keope’s environmental footprint in porcelain stoneware production but also ensures that Keope’s products contribute to healthier and more sustainable buildings. This aligns perfectly with the demands of a greener future.

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