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GREEN & SUSTAINABLE

Laying a Renewed Foundation

Granite Recycling Saves Money, Reduces Waste

By Nick Dmitrovich

E

very year, millions of tons of granite are thrown away and sent to landfills where they remain in the earth indefinitely. It is estimated during the course of the average granite countertop instillation between 20% and 30% of materials are discarded as waste. This unused product is a drain on the granite fabrication industry as well as the waste disposal agencies that have to haul it to the landfill - but there is a solution to the problem. Recently a new industry has begun to form around the concept of recycling unused granite into cost-effective building solutions that not only provide a way to save a great deal of money on projects, but also work toward a solution of lessening the amount of material buried forever in landfills. Julie Rizzo, of Northwest Indiana, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Granite Recycling Network, an international organization that has saved an estimated 20,000,000 pounds of granite from being needlessly thrown away. Rizzo literally created the granite recycling industry, beginning as a countertop consultant who noticed an abundance of granite just sitting out in the dumpster. She decided to dig into that still-usable stone for mosaic projects, and a few years down the road she created a completely new industry. After years of research, she established methods, machinery and markets to recycle scrap granite. “I took an idea and turned it into an industry,” Executive Director Rizzo said. “We are literally throwing away millions of pounds of high-end granite across the country.  I teach people how to take that post-consumer waste product and turn it into 60

sellable products right here in the U.S. We could do the exact same thing with our plastics too.”  The recycled granite comes from several different sources, from cuts made while building countertops to stone harvested from demolitions. Recycling experts harvest the material and bring it back to life through a machining process that shapes the stones to fit the customer’s requirements. The result nets solid stones, not crushed or reconstituted pieces. Using intact stones allows for greater strength: in the cast of granite paving stones, the strength of each stone is generally 15,000 to 25,000 pounds per square inch. Compared to the average strength of concrete, which is typically between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds per square inch, granite can be up to 3 to 5 times stronger. In fact, it’s is so strong that granite structures from antiquity are still intact today. But beyond the strength of recycled granite, one of the best features for those interested in choosing recycled materials over brand new material is the cost – recycled granite is considerably cheaper than new granite. “Recycled split stone tile and landscaping pavers are priced in line with traditional tiles and paver products,” Rizzo said. “Prices are kept low in order to sell more material, which in-turn recycles more waste and creates green jobs. Recycled products are very high-end at affordable prices for everyone.”  The size and scale of projects that can be completed using recycled granite are limited only by the builder’s imagination. Anything that can be made out of conventional granite can also be made using recycled materials. The Granite Recycling Network has customers ranging from private citizens looking to www.buildingindiana.com | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013

Building Indiana: September/October 2013  

Construction

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