With so many “green” counter top options on the market it’s difficult to know how to make the right choice. If we are interested in something truly environmentally friendly first we need our material of choice to be one that is sustainable or made from recycled materials. Avoiding virgin materials and opting for recycled ones also has the benefit of reducing harvesting or sourcing costs. Because of this our contenders all utilize recycled material. Secondly, the product itself needs to be recyclable – otherwise, at the end of its lifetime it ends up in the landfill. With this in mind here are my top 3 contenders.
Contender number one: Recycled plastic countertops by 3-Form. Recycled plastic is made from 100% post-consumer plastics satisfying the first of our requirements. And at the end of its lifespan the product is 100% recyclable, satisfying the second requirement. The plastic that 3-Form uses in these counter tops is high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This product is available under their 100 percent material option and comes in various striped, solid and speckled color choices.
- Pros: no sealing required, is lightweight and easy to install
- Cons: the product isn’t very hard – so it is easy to scratch.
Contender number two: recycled aluminum by ALKEMI. ALKEMI-acrylic is made of waste aluminum flake, solid surface scrap and recycled acrylic. This product almost meets our first requirement by being comprised of 84-97% recycled material. As for our second requirement according to ALKEMI’s website, ALKEMI-acrylic can be recycled endlessly after its lifecycle. This product can be fabricated and installed by solid surface professionals using conventional tools and methods.
- Pros: is durable, boasts a high recycled content and has no VOC content.
- Cons: cannot recess or install cook tops or burners directly into ALKEMI surface, an insert or transition counter needs to be used.
Contender number three: composite stone by Icestone. Composite stone is a version of terrazzo and is made of recycled materials like paper, glass and cement instead of the traditional terrazzo aggregate of marble chips. As for our first requirement these products recycled content varies depending on the mix but can contain over 50% recycled content. Icestone uses a mix of recycled glass, Portland cement and pigment. However the product itself is not recyclable, as far as my research shows.
- Pros: the product doesn’t contain any petrochemicals and will not fade in the sunlight.
- Cons: it can be more susceptible to scratching and staining than resin based product due to its porous nature but with proper treatment. According to the company: “While it’s true that occasional staining and scratching may occur on IceStone, it does so with similar frequency to popular granite or marble (natural stones) countertops, and just requires a 20-minute sealing process once every few months that can be done by any homeowner. This will maintain the beauty of the surface. Check out our care and maintenance video library for more info: https://www.youtube.com/IceStoneLLC“
So if you’re looking for new counter tops in your home and are unsure of your options these contenders are worth looking into. Try an innovative recycled material and instead of boasting to friends about your granite counter tops you can boast about being both stylish, and green.
related: more green home decor