Donato Grosser, President and Chief Consultant, D. Grosser & Associates, Ltd.

At Total Solutions that took place on November 9 to 11 in Phoenix, AZ, Mr. Eric Astrachan, executive director of the Tile Council of North America, introduced the new ANSI standard denominated “American Standard Specifications for Sustainable Ceramic Tiles, Glass Tiles Materials and Installations.”

The standard is optional. However it is expected that some architects and public administration will require that tile suppliers abide by it for their projects. Here are some details of the standard:
  • The standard establishes minimum quantities of recycled materials. For ceramic tiles the mandatory percentage of recycled material is 3%. To receive additional points manufacturers can increase percentages to 15% or 35% of the total.
  • There are three optional levels for raw materials procured without the need of long-range transportation: 50%, 75% and 90% of the total.
  • Weight of the packaging material must not exceed 1.5% of the total packaged product.
  • Packing materials should be biodegradable.
  • Manufacturers should provide instructions on maintenance.
  • Factories must not pollute the environment.
In addition to the above requirements, which are scientifically measurable and quite reasonable, there are others that appear plainly “politically correct.”

One such requirement is that manufacturers provide written guidelines relating to social and environmental responsibilities of their suppliers. In addition, with regard to social responsibility, the manufacturer must provide proof of a strategy that includes a program of “community involvement.”

The standard also requires that manufacturers conduct audits every five years on the use of lighting, fuel and electricity. It requires from manufacturers a system for water conservation and an annual report on sustainability.

At this point, it is not clear what the costs of the new standard will be. From a first analysis, it appears that the new standard is especially onerous for small- and medium-sized companies that do not have enough staff to do internal audits and prepare reports. It requires needless paperwork that increase business costs without a real benefit to the market, the environment and consumers.