The sustainable life cycle of natural stones: Marble, Quartzite, and Granite

When it comes to choosing materials for the construction and decoration of spaces, it is essential to consider sustainability. An increasingly popular option is natural stones such as marble, quartzite, and granite. In addition to their beauty and durability, these materials have a sustainable life cycle, from extraction to proper disposal. In this article, we will explore this life cycle and highlight the sustainable practices associated with these stones.

Sustainable life cycle

The first step in the life cycle of natural stones is responsible extraction. Quarries that extract marble, quartzite, and granite are increasingly adopting sustainable practices to minimize environmental impact. Furthermore, many quarries are implementing reforestation techniques to help preserve local biodiversity.

Zucchi establishes partnerships with companies that share the same environmental concerns. Vermont, one of our longstanding partners, adopts various sustainable practices, notably through the use of green energy. With a total of three active solar plants, it fulfills 80% of the energy consumption, generating an impressive 64,000 kW of green energy. This initiative not only significantly reduces CO² emissions but also contributes to the preservation of 157,000 trees per plant.

Furthermore, Vermont is mindful of consciously selecting the quarry capacity for each new material, ensuring that the financial impact does not overshadow the environmental impact. In all of its quarries, practices for water treatment and reuse are implemented for consumption, along with the retention of rainwater for use in daily processes such as cutting and quarry irrigation, aiming to reduce dust generated by transport machinery.
We also highlight the water reuse initiative from the cutting process, which undergoes a solid waste decantation process and is reused for subsequent cuts. At Zucchi, we reaffirm our commitment to sustainability, ensuring that our partnerships and operations are aligned with environmental preservation and the promotion of eco-efficient practices.

After extraction, natural stones undergo a processing stage to achieve the desired shape and finish. During this stage, it is important to adopt efficient practices to minimize material waste. Many preservation actions are taken by Zucchi, such as the treatment and reuse of water throughout the production process, the use of solar energy to reduce the consumption of energy from non-renewable sources, and a natural reserve to help offset greenhouse gas emissions. Zucchi Luxury Stones takes these and other initiatives, such as selective waste collection and sustainable landfill practices, following all environmental regulation criteria.

Zucchi Luxury Stone headquarters with solar panels. Sustainable responsibility
Zucchi Luxury Stone headquarters with solar panels

In this regard, the Natural Stone Institute has published a set of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for the entire industry, and the results released make it clear how choosing natural stones can help reduce the embedded carbon in construction projects. Some of the reasons cited include the number of processes involved in the production of each material, which is significantly higher in the case of synthetic materials.
Check out the CO² emissions comparison in the image below.

CO² emissions comparison in sustainable life cycle of natural stones
The embodied carbon quantities displayed were estimated based on the following: Unite of Measure: Global Warming Potential (kg CO2 eq)
Functional Unit: 1m2 | Scope: Raw Material Extraction, Transportation, Manufacturing (A1-A3)
Natural Stone: Industry-Wide EPDs for Cladding, Flooring & Countertops
Pre-Cast Concrete Cladding: Industry-Wide EPD for Architectural Precast Panels, 150 lbs per ft3, 4” thick
Engineered Quartz: Average of three individual manufacturer EPDs including Corian Quartz, Vicostone, and Lotte
Terrazzo: Average of three individual manufacturer EPDs including Compac, Sensitile, and Sherwin Williams

Long-lasting and versatile: maintenance, reuse, and proper disposal

One of the main advantages of natural stones is their durability. Marble, quartzite, and granite have a long lifespan and withstand daily wear and tear well. This means that when used in floors, countertops, cladding, and other elements, these stones can last for decades, reducing the need for frequent replacement.

In addition to their durability, these stones are also highly versatile. They can be used in various projects and styles, from residential environments to commercial spaces. This versatility allows the stones to adapt to different needs over time, contributing to their sustainability.

Marble statues in Rome, Italy. Natural stones maintain their beauty over the years
Marble statues in Rome, Italy – Pic of JOE Planas – Unsplash

To ensure that natural stones maintain their beauty over the years, proper maintenance is necessary. However, this maintenance doesn’t have to be harmful to the environment. Opting for eco-friendly cleaning products and treatments helps minimize environmental impact.

Furthermore, if it becomes necessary to replace or remove natural stones from a project, they can be reused. The stones can be recycled or repurposed in other projects, avoiding improper disposal. This practice contributes to the circular economy.

Finally, when it comes time to dispose of natural stones, it’s important to do so properly. Disposing of them in landfills is not the best option, as it occupies valuable space and can cause negative environmental impacts. Instead, it is recommended to seek out companies that specialize in recycling natural stones. These companies can crush the stones and reuse them in new products, such as construction aggregates.

Conclusion: Authenticity and Sustainability

Volcanic Lava Quartzite from Zucchi Luxury Stones. Authenticity and Sustainability of natural stones
Volcanic Lava Quartzite from Zucchi Luxury Stones

The life cycle of natural stones, such as marble, quartzite, and granite, involves responsible practices from extraction to proper disposal. From responsible extraction to proper disposal, these stones offer a range of environmental advantages. By choosing natural stones in construction and decoration projects, we are selecting authentic materials since nature never replicates the exact same pattern, making each piece unique. These materials are durable and more sustainable, reducing environmental impact.

That’s why it’s important to choose reputable companies, such as Zucchi, that have a genuine concern for the entire production process and are constantly seeking improvements.