The market has exploded with options for sustainable countertops. They are made with recycled materials such as plastics and aluminum and sustainable fast growing materials like bamboo, wheat and hemp. Aesthetics is not the only consideration when choosing a sustainable countertop, durability, recycled content, end of life recyclability, and costs are important factors. The following is a quick introduction to the some sustainable countertop materials and manufacturers. $$ Recycled Plastic is very environmentally friendly. It is made from 100 % post-consumer plastics and is 100 % recyclable at the end of its life
Pros- no sealing required, lightweight, easy to install.
Cons - it is easily scratched
Manufacturers - 3-Form
$$ Recycled Paper is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper that has been saturated with resins and selected natural pigments. After trimming to length, resin-saturated sheets are stacked and moved into a press where they are fused together under heat and pressure. Paper sheet count determines the thickness of the finished panels.
Pros -wide variety of looks & colors, aged appearance, durable
Cons - must be sealed well and regularly
Manufacturers - Paperstone
$$ Bamboo Countertop comes in parquet butcher block, vertical grain or strand countertops. Bamboo is a fast growing sustainable plant it is 40 % harder than red oak and 12% harder than North American maple.
Pros - very durable, designed to chop on
Cons - Mineral oil or beeswax must be applied twice a month
Manufacturers - Teragren
$$$ Recycled Aluminum is made of waste aluminum flake, solid surface scrap and recycled acrylic. It has no VOC content. It is fabricated and installed by solid surface professionals with conventional tools and methods.
Pros - 96% recycled content , it is available in a variety of colors and finishes, it is durable and attractive
Cons - none
Manufacturers - Alkemi
$$$ Resin Infused Composite is made by infusing acrylic resin into composite boards in order to create a hard and durable surface product that is suitable for high wear applications. In addition, the infusion process adds a desirable look that makes the panels appealing to architects and designers
Pros - 50% - 75% recycled content - wheat, sorghum, hemp & wood
Cons - Cannot use under-mount sinks and it can be scratched
Manufacturers - TorZo
$$$$ Composite Stone is a contemporary version of terrazzo which is made with recycled materials such as paper, and glass mixed with low-carbon cement instead of the traditional terrazzo aggregate of marble chips.
Pros - Contains over 50% recycled content
Cons - More susceptible to scratching and staining than a resin based product. It is porous, which may increase the chances for bacterial growth if not cleaned and maintained regularly. The edges can chip.
Manufacturers - Squak Mountain Stone
$$$$ -Resin Based Stone are made with quartz, porcelain ,recycled glass and/or shells in a epoxy terrazzo. It is nonporous and easy to maintain.
Pros - Diverts post consumer glass from the waste stream, extremely durable and easy to maintain. It is comparable to granite in strength, scratch resistance, and heat resistance.
Cons - More expensive than other options.
Manufacturers - Vetrostone - manufactured in Yemassee