LIFE ECLAT - New model of circular economy that also predisposes the use of waste materials in other industries

LIFE15 ENV/IT/000369

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Contact details:

Contact person: Vito Antonio Remigio
Tel: 390536934211
Fax: 390536934250
Email: r.mantovani@fondovalle.it

Project description:


Hard-wearing countertops and tiles for kitchens and bathrooms are manufactured from ceramic or polymeric/composite materials. Both materials, however, present environmental problems. The use of ceramic produces large amounts of waste, while countertops made with composite materials – i.e. crushed stone bound together by a synthetic adhesive (e.g. epoxy and polyester resins) – are barely recyclable because their basic components cannot be separated.

Both manufacturing processes require large amounts of natural stones (marbles and quartz). In 2007, the overall volume of stones used in the EU was some 1.1 billion m2, an increase of more than 18% on the amount used in 2005. The waste generated in the manufacture of one square metre of composite countertop is estimated to be 1.3 kg of resin-contaminated waste, 3 l in finishing operations and 4 kg of cuttings from sizing operations.


The LIFE ECLAT project’s main objective is to close the loop of the manufacturing cycle of ceramic countertops and tiles in line with the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. This starts with the incoming atomised powders, leading to the finished products by means of mechanical and thermal processes, and finally to the recycling of end-of-life products through re-use by deconstruction operations.

The project will introduce an innovative forming process using belt-pressing of atomised powders that have undergone prior decoration using a dry inkjet-system. Once the initial ceramic slab is formed, it is cut to size and polished before firing. So, any possible waste generated during machining operations can be directly reused in the same manufacturing process. This is also enabled by the use of diamond-coated tools, or pure steel ones, which do not contaminate the waste generated – i.e. being much more resistant to abrasion than the material being processed. A simple ‘green cutting’ operation brings the slab to the desired size and the excess parts can be used in other possible formats, or directly recycled on site. The reverse side of the new ceramic slabs will also be smoother which will facilitate both installation and dismantling.

Packaging will also improved to avoid any generation of waste or additional use of resources. The packaging is produced on site and on demand, beginning with cardboard rollers, which are cut to size, folded and printed, but cover only part of the finished ceramic product. The result is a reduction of 60-70% of the cardboard normally required.

Expected results:

  • No solid or liquid wastes are emitted by the new process, and there is full recycling of the waste produced, thus closing the manufacturing process loop. This corresponds to a reduction of (i) 0.9 kg/m2 of cutting and polishing sludge (on a dry base) and (ii) approx. 2.5 kg/m2 of fired scraps (broken during cutting, defective slabs);
  • No water usage during the finishing operations (green cutting, green polishing), leading to a saving of 0.8 m3 water/m2 of slabs;
  • Lower energy consumption, estimated at less than 50% in cutting and polishing, with at least 40% longer diamond wheel life and 90% longer mole life. No energy consumption increase is expected during forming (pressing) operations. The energy consumption saving is expected to be -1.13 kWh/m2 of product (24 180 kWh/year);
  • Up to 40% usage of recycled raw materials, including reclaimed end-of-life products from dismantling from existing installations (9.2 kg/m2, equivalent to 358.8 tonnes/year);
  • Complete recyclability of the final product and its re-use in the manufacturing process, requiring only milling operations;
  • Full recycling of powders generated during cutting and polishing, by simple re-mixing and re-pressing them in the basic material. Internal recycling is expected to be 2.31 kg/m2, equivalent to 90 tonnes/year;
  • 30% increase in productivity during the cutting and polishing operations, due to the lower wear-resistance of the pressed slabs;
  • A 40% cost saving in packaging for an average 1x1 m slab;
  • Fewer CO2 emissions of an estimated 13.74 kg/m2 of slab (430 tonnes of CO2/year).

All figures are calculated on a pilot demonstration line of 130 m2/day operating 300 days/year.



Environmental issues addressed:


Environmental management - Eco-products design
Environmental management - Circular economy and Value chains
Waste - Waste reduction - Raw material saving


waste use‚  waste reduction‚  ceramics industry‚  life-cycle management‚  resource conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...
  • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ceramica Fondovalle S.p.A.
Type of organisation Large 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. The company was the coordinating beneficiary of another Italian project, LIFE Microfinishing (LIFE02 ENV/IT/000052), which was named a ‘Best of the Best’ LIFE project in 2006-2007.
Partners UNIMO(Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Italy


Project reference LIFE15 ENV/IT/000369
Duration 01-OCT-2016 to 30-SEP -2019
Total budget 3,488,453.00 €
EU contribution 1,815,451.00 €
Project location Emilia-Romagna(Italia)


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