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Microfinishing - A new dry process of microfinishing of gres porcelain and natural stone surfaces, which will substitute the stage of smoothing/polishing, drastically decreasing the environmental impact of this stage, to aim for a sustainable development

LIFE02 ENV/IT/000052

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Vito Antonio REMIGIO
Tel: 39 (0536) 934211
Fax: 39 (0536) 934250

Project description:


The finishing of surfaces in the ceramics industry was known to cause specific environmental damage. Polishing products such as ceramic tiles, involved grinding wheels and the application of highly polluting enamels and soluble compounds. The whole process used high levels of power and a lot of water and produced a substantial amount of ceramic mud - a dangerous waste product. Ceramic Fondovalle wanted to look at new dry processes for finishing tile surfaces without the need to use so much pollutant products or water. Their idea was to replace the traditional abrasive materials with the very same material used to make the tiles. This would allow for a much greater recycling of the material used - either as abrasive or in finished tiles - and significant reductions in the waste produced.


The project aimed to design, realise and test a pilot plant using a new dry finishing process for grés ceramics. The plant would eliminate the use of both water and grinding wheels from the process, thus reducing the water and power needs and the subsequent impact on the environment. It would use the raw materials for the production of the tiles as abrasive material and develop a separation system to allow for the materials’ reuse. It aimed to reduce the need for highly polluting enamels and soluble compounds and related production wastes as well as eliminating the production of environmentally damaging ceramic mud. On the performance side, the product sought to match the environmental benefits with technical quality increases. The project targeted greater precision of the finishing process with a high stereoscopic definition of the product, a reduction of the fault rate, increases in productivity, improved aesthetic results and a reduction in the space needed for the process.


The project succeeded in developing its highly innovative dry process of finishing tiles and demonstrating its implementation in a pilot plant. It achieved its objective of recovering all the finishing waste and re-entering it into the process either as abrasive material once more or - if its grain has become too thin - as raw material for the production of the tiles. The plant is on target to reach industrial performance levels once the automation of the loading process has been completed. The dry process has reduced the use of water and grinding wheels to zero. This has consequently eliminated the production of dangerous polishing mud and solid waste from the abrasive materials and eradicated the accumulation of exhausted grinding wheels. For the beneficiary alone, this has meant savings of 20,000 litres of water per day, 20,000 grinding wheels per year and 4,300 tons per year of polishing mud. Energy consumption has been halved in the plant and the use of special pollutant enamels reduced by 10%. The success of the fully optimised plant allowed the beneficiary to obtain more resistant surfaces in the finishing process, thus increasing the quality of the final product. The greater precision has also reduced the production of waste products. Overall production costs have been significantly reduced helping the competitivity of the products on the world market. The beneficiary intends to shift all its products onto the new finishing process and has already installed the pilot plant in another factory where the loading process has been automated giving it close to industrial performance levels and greatly improved environmental performance. The beneficiary will continue dissemination activities and maintain the web site to encourage the use of the new dry process in other industries such as stone. This will involve taking the results to relevant industry fairs, disseminating the Layman’s report and publishing the project results in specialised magazines. This project has been awarded the title of "Best of the Best" from a shortlist of 22 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2006-2007


Environmental issues addressed:


Environmental management - Cleaner technologies
Industry-Production - Non-metallic minerals


clean technology‚  ceramics industry

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ceramica Fondovalle S.p.A.
Type of organisation SME Small and medium sized enterprise
Description Ceramica Fondovalle is an Italian ceramics company founded in 1957. Originally focused on red stonewear floor and wall tiles it developed a specialisation in the production of single-fired white-paste glazed tiles.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE02 ENV/IT/000052
Duration 01-OCT-2002 to 31-DEC -2005
Total budget 2,670,475.00 €
EU contribution 733,704.00 €
Project location Emilia-Romagna(Italia)


Read more:

Project web site Project web site
Publication: Layman report Layman report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version