Best Practices To Ensure Sustainability Of Porcelain Products

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Ceramics has been the most elegant and durable home decor material since time immemorial. Among the various ceramic materials, porcelain has the most attractive features due to its translucency. Porcelain is a world-class decorative surface that has been admired for centuries. Its unique properties make it a highly sought-after material for decorative purposes. Not only is porcelain beautiful, but it is also incredibly durable, making it ideal for use in both residential and commercial settings.

Porcelain material uses and production

Porcelain is a ceramic material that is made from natural raw materials and is created from a mixture of clay minerals such as feldspar, quartz and kaolin. It is produced by heating clay and other raw materials in a kiln to up to temperatures of 1,400 °C. This intense heating process causes vitrification, which leads to greater strength and translucence of porcelain. Clay gives plasticity for working, while feldspar provides hardness and strength. The use of clay and minerals does not involve exploiting natural resources, in turn protecting the environment as well.

Porcelain tableware dishes and containers are more durable, sturdy and resistant to scratches and the wear and tear. The smooth, pore-free surface does not absorb any water nor odors and fats, thus there is not a slight change in flavor or taste of the prepared dish. A mechanical strength of 550-600 kg/cm2, and a Mohs hardness of 7/8 make porcelain dishes and containers more durable and resistant to scratches that can withstand the wear and tear of a restaurant business.

Durability of Porcelain

Now comes the question why are porcelain tiles or materials so durable? Porcelain is the most durable material humans have ever produced and such wares produced in China have lasted for several centuries. Chip-resistant porcelain wares are highly scratch-resistant and have remarkable strength due to their hard-glazed, fully vitrified non-porous body. They are hygienic, microwave safe due to high thermal shock resistance, high heat retention, and minimal breakages, but are light weight and have great translucency.

Ceramic tiles are produced from earthen clay and water, while porcelain tiles are vitrified ceramic tiles that are made up of 40% clay and 60% silica. These tiles are made from a mixture of clay, silica, quartz and feldspar just like the granite rock.

Such ceramic items don’t spoil at all and they can last a lifetime. The more a product lasts, the more sustainable it is, because it prevents new resources to replace it. Porcelain stoneware is one of the most durable construction materials in the world, since it is highly resistant to solar radiation. It requires the least maintenance since it practically doesn’t stain and is resistant to corrosive substances. Ceramic tiles from the Roman Empire have lasted till today!

Various utilities of Porcelain

Porcelain is used in diverse applications such as tableware, decorative vases, statues, figurines, toilets, washbasins, and even industrial products such as electrical insulators and laboratory ware. Here are some of its main utilities:

  • Porcelain tableware such as plates, cups, jars have been used since ages. Porcelain wares are highly scratch resistant and have remarkable strength due to their hard glazed fully vitrified non-porous body.
  • Porcelain tiles are used in flooring, particularly in bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens, where there is a need to prevent moisture damage. Water absorption of Porcelain material is less than 0.5% so any damage from moisture can be completely prevented.
  • Electrical insulators and laboratory ware are another important application of porcelain material. Porcelain is free from any porosity, which gives it its high dielectric property that can insulate against high voltage electric power.

Best practices in sustainability of porcelain products

Porcelain tiles have a low environmental impact at all stages of their life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials in selected quarries to industrial manufacturing carried out using efficient energy and water systems, and finally to their disposal, being fully recyclable. Here are some of the best practices that need to be adopted to ensure the sustainability of porcelain products:

Easy maintenance and cleaning

Porcelain’s smooth, non-porous surface makes it easy to clean without any need for harsh chemicals. Reduced dependence on chemical cleaners promotes a healthier living environment and minimizes the release of harmful substances into water systems. However, porcelain tiles due to their high glazed surface tend to be slippery when wet. So porcelain tile manufacturers need to get their products certified porcelain tile laboratories to ensure some slip resistance.

Longevity

Porcelain is known for its exceptional durability and it can withstand heavy use, resist scratches and stains, and maintain its appearance over time. Its longevity reduces the need for frequent replacements, resulting in less waste generation and resource consumption. However, porcelain products need to be maintained properly to ensure their durability. When sand grains and dust are rubbed on porcelain tiles, they tend to get scratched, removing their tough exterior. Similarly, porcelain tableware needs to be cleaned carefully since any mishandling can break them.

Resource efficiency

Porcelain is typically made from abundant materials like clay, feldspar, silica, and kaolin. These materials can be sourced responsibly and have a relatively low environmental impact compared to scarce minerals. However, the mineral extraction must be done responsibly in isolated mines that doesn’t harm the topsoil of agricultural lands.

Energy efficiency

Technological improvements, such as advanced kilns and energy management systems, have reduced energy consumption during production. Additionally, the long lifespan of porcelain products reduces the energy required for replacements and renovations.

Recycled porcelain

Ceramic production is highly energy-intensive, and the firing process releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By using recycled ceramics, we can reduce the demand for virgin materials and, in turn, reduce the carbon footprint of the ceramics industry. In addition to conserving natural resources, using recycled ceramics also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Broken or discarded porcelain pieces can be crushed into aggregate material and reused in various applications, such as road construction or as raw material in new porcelain production.

Low VOC emissions

Porcelain tiles typically have low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs can be harmful to indoor air quality and human health. Using low-VOC porcelain tiles contributes to healthier indoor environments. However, Porcelain producers must use mineral-based pigments rather than any chemical stains to color their tiles.

Levine Lawrence
Rooftop organic farmer, eager eco enthusiast, sustainable economist wandering on a middle path to find world peace amidst global chaos!

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