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LIFE GREEN SINKS - Realization of green composite sinks substituting organic and mineral primary materials by recovered waste

LIFE12 ENV/IT/000736


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Contact details:

Project Manager: Antonio BUGIOLACCHIO
Tel: 0733290561
Email: antonio.bugiolacchio@plados.it



Project description:

Background

The market for composite kitchen sinks is growing rapidly. Among the three main types – polyester/acrylic, quartz composite and granite-based – quartz composite (60-70% quartz and 30% resin filler) provides a much more durable surface than use of polyester/acrylic. To date, however, no use is made of secondary raw materials in the manufacture of quartz composite sinks. Furthermore, quartz composite sinks are made using methyl methacrylate (MMA) (20-30%) and poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA) (10%) fillers, with most of the waste produced in the manufacturing process sent to land fill as ‘special industrial waste’. It is estimated that the waste from composite sink manufacturing in Europe amounts to more than 3 000 tonnes of minerals, heavily polluted with polymers, and worldwide to around 8 million tonnes per annum. Moreover, the use of quartz and quartz-like primary materials places a heavy demand on the availability of natural mineral resources and is harmful to the environment. Therefore, the recovery of waste from composite sink manufacturing would help offset the landfilling of this type of waste and reduce the excavation of primary raw materials such as quartz cristobalite and minerals.


Objectives

The LIFE GREEN SINKS project aimed to develop the first ‘green sinks’ and to demonstrate the feasibility of 100% substitution of primary resources by the treatment and recycling of 80% of MMA and PMMA used in the manufacture of composite sinks. The recovered MMA and PMMA would be recycled with other minerals and moulded to form new (composite) sinks.

Specific objectives were to: 1. Preserve the environment and primary resources by reducing the requirement for the mining of quartz and cristobalite minerals used in the production of composite sinks; 2. Recycle a large variety of mineral waste (glass, quartz from stone industries), which would comprise 60-70 % of the green sinks; 3. Reduce fuel consumption due to a reduced need to transport minerals; 4. Reduce land filling of waste material from the composite sink industry; and 5. Carry out a Life Cycle Assessment on the green sinks and validate them according to the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 methodologies.


Results

The LIFE GREEN SINKS created a new green range of products including innovative kitchen sinks manufactured by 100% recovered materials. These materials originate both from closed loop recycling (using the company production scraps and the wasted sinks) and from open loop recycling (using the production waste of other national industries). The full recycling of raw materials allowed the beneficiary to reduce its use of extracted raw materials, such as quartz and cristobalite, which are typically transported long distance. As a result, the company was able to lower its energy consumption and carbon emissions, thereby limiting the environmental impact and economic cost of its industrial production process. It estimated that it achieved a 56.3% reduction of CO2 emissions and a 64.5% reduction in energy consumption. Additionally, the amount of scraps and waste to be land filled is also significantly reduced.

A key achievement of the project was demonstrating the technological feasibility of replacing 100% of the raw materials with recycled raw materials on at industrial scale. In particular, the beneficiary succeeded in producing green formulations with around 22% of the total recovered fillers deriving from the reuse of the scraps of the beneficiary. The total quantities of recycled materials during the project were: PMMA (7 849.3 kg), MMA (1 611 kg) and quartz (27 548.6 kg). It is estimated that by the end of 2018 the three green sinks models developed by the project would help to avoid around 140 tonnes of waste material (corresponding to 10 000 sinks) that is usually landfilled, with quartz accounting for more than 60% of this amount. Moreover, 490 tonnes of CO2 and 5 130 000 MJ equivalent of energy would be saved due to the use of recycled MMA and PMMA (in comparison to current sink production).

The virgin raw materials substitution was made possible by replacing one raw material at a time and testing the new corresponding formulas. These formulations were then evaluated in a laboratory before being produced on a pilot industrial scale. To achieve this objective, a prototype was built and a new compound was synthesised to effectively bind the components of the formulations tested. At the end of this process, 12 green formulations were selected for use in the production of sinks. They are different in composition, types of raw material used and colour. Three were then chosen to create a new green products line to be marketed in the short term as the first green sinks in the world.

The project also demonstrated the overall economic feasibility of the green manufacturing process. While the labour requirements remain the same, the cost of materials is 15% lower compared to conventional sinks. The internal minerals, however, are still more expensive than the external ones, due to higher grinding costs. Sinks based on internal fillers are not therefore economically feasible at the present time. The business plan drafted by the beneficiary indicates an expected increase in turnover and profits of at least 7-8% on account of the 10 000 green sinks that will be put on the market in 2016-2018.

Finally, the beneficiary expects to increase its staff by 6-7% as a result of green sink production on a large scale. New commercial employees will be hired, together with skilled technical staff and specialists. Moreover, the forthcoming production of green sinks is expected to have a positive socio-economic impact on the region overall, creating new employment opportunities, reducing the amount of waste disposal and transferring knowledge to other industrial sectors.

The project achievements are in line with EU environmental policy, including the 7th Environmental Action Plan, the thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste, the 2011 Roadmap to a Resource-efficient Europe and the EU action plan for the Circular Economy.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Industry-Production - Non-metallic minerals
Waste - Waste recycling


Keywords

waste use‚  waste recycling‚  industrial process‚  resource conservation


Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 1999/31 - Landfill of waste (26.04.1999)
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...
  • COM(2014)398 - "Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe" (02.07.2014)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator DELTA srl
Type of organisation SME Small and medium sized enterprise
Description Established in 1997, Delta produces and markets built-in kitchen sinks made of acrylic composite material and stainless steel, as well as complementary products such as taps, hobs, ovens and oven hoods in matching colours, shower floors and various other plastic products. It has participated in numerous international fairs and carried out several research projects. It is currently investigating the production of composite sinks from 100% recycled materials.
Partners None

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Project reference LIFE12 ENV/IT/000736
Duration 01-JUL-2013 to 01-JUL -2015
Total budget 1,580,980.00 €
EU contribution 766,990.00 €
Project location Piemonte(Italia) Valle d'Aosta(Italia) Liguria(Italia) Lombardia(Italia) Trentino-Alto Adige(Italia) Veneto(Italia) Friuli-Venezia Giulia(Italia) Emilia-Romagna(Italia) Toscana(Italia) Umbria(Italia) Marche(Italia) Lazio(Italia) Campania(Italia) Abruzzo(Italia) Molise(Italia) Puglia(Italia) Basilicata(Italia) Calabria(Italia) Sicilia(Italia) Sardegna(Italia)

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Read more:

Brochure Project's brochure
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link Project's video (3')

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