Granite has a long history from the pyramids in Egypt, to granite memorials in Victorian Britain. It gained popularity first in commercial buildings and monuments, as flooring tiles and other uses, because it wears better than marble due to acid rain erosion. But we should never forget where granite comes from, as this photo of Half Dome in Yosemite illustrates (photo credit to Jon Sullivan and Wikipedia) and that's why this story about recycled granite is so important.
Today granite is a popular material used to fabricate kitchen counter tops, but that's a relatively new trend. Until the late 1990's, granite was available in a limited number of colors because it was sourced locally in the northeast and a few other US locations.
Granite Kitchen Counters & Recycled Granite
In a relatively short time, granite has become the most popular material for kitchen counter tops. The question is why? It's expensive, it must be maintained and it can harbor bacteria which isn't great because we prepare our food on kitchen counter tops.
New equipment has changed the granite industry through automation. Cutting tools using diamond wire saw blades to cut now cut multiple slabs of 3/4 inch granite in one step, make the extraction, slabbing and transporting of stone affordable. This technology is now commonplace at/near quarries in almost 50 countries and what used to take days to quarry, now takes hours. All of this is making granite cheap according to a Forbes article that says “… Granite is so affordable now, it’s cheaper to get it in South America, ship it to China to be polished then ship it back to the U.S.”
Large computer numerically controlled (CNC) saws now take the guess work out of fabricating a counter top from the slap chosen by homeowners. A template is drawn after the base cabinets are installed, and only then is countertop formed and finished, reducing the number of costly mistakes and rework (watch how this slab was fabricated).
Recycled Granite Comes from Countertop Waste
When you look at the white template above, you begin to realize how much granite is wasted with each kitchen countertop. Of course the first use for the leftover granite are countertops for the bathrooms. Savvy homeowners will look for other uses. Some of my favorites are window sills to stop worrying about watering plants and granite “door mats” inset in the floor to reduce damage from wet, dirty shoes and boots.
Recycled Granite &
Sadly almost 30% of the granite slab is lost when the remaining pieces aren't big enough to create another countertop. Fortunately one granite countertop consultant saw this problem, and turned it into an opportunity.
In 2009, Julie Rizzo created a global network that put recycled granite on the map. Today RecycledGranite.com, led by Julie and her network have saved more than 20,000,000 pounds of granite remnants from landfills. They use proprietary manufacturing processes to create the materials that can be turned into creative backsplashes, bathtub and shower surrounds, ganite wallscapes and so much more. The technology is licensed to individuals who want to make a difference while running a profitable business.
Here are some examples of what you can do with recycled granite, and there are many more ideas (photos and videos) on their website.
If you've got any remodeling plans in your future, we hope you consider using recycled granite!