BS ISO 17889-1:2021 states that: “In the domain of ceramic tiles, sustainability means optimised utilisation of raw materials, including utilities (water and energy), as well as optimised production and optimised transport.”
TTA has recognised there are many issues around sustainability affecting the tile industry. This year, the organisation has established a working group with the aim of developing a coordinated industry response to the climate crisis while helping members on their individual sustainability journeys and providing leadership for the tiling sector.
The working group features representation from around a dozen companies extending across the sector, including distributors and retailers, importers, adhesive manufacturers, contractors and logistics providers. It meets on a monthly basis and reports directly to TTA board of directors.
The group has met several times already and has identified some of the main issues which confront the sector. These include, but are not limited to:
Whether companies operate their own businesses in a sustainable fashion – minimising energy usage, improving energy efficiency of company buildings, minimising travel, encouraging electric vehicle usage, installing green energy systems and minimising and recycling our business waste.
The exploitation of finite raw material sources in tile manufacture and the intensive use of energy in the manufacturing process.
The carbon footprint of bringing tiles from overseas.
Chemicals used in the process of installation – especially in adhesives, grouts, sealers and related products.
However, TTA also believes it’s important to tell the positive sustainability story regarding tiles.
These positive factors include the durability and longevity of tiled surfaces, as well as the inert nature of the product, which greatly facilitates fire resistance, water, chemical and stain resistance, recycling and eliminates toxic emissions from end-of-life products.
Following the early meetings of the group, work is now progressing to create a page on the association’s website about sustainability. This will be a place to highlight some of the key issues, set out TTA’s position to confront them, as well as a platform to share best practice from within the industry.
There are also longer term goals to work towards: the creation of a sustainability report for the tiling industry at some point and to hold an industry event with speakers around the sustainability theme.
TTA considers itself fortunate that it has considerable resources at its disposal in this area. As a member of both the Construction Products Association and Build UK, it can draw on the vast amount of work done by those organisations in the field of sustainability. Meanwhile the association’s increasingly strong links with the leading European tile manufacturing associations will also be very helpful.