Is my sink eco-friendly?

August 31, 2008

Dear Green Expert,
I am rehabbing a kitchen and found a sink I really like that is made of 80 percent granite and 20 percent acrylic and resin. The material is called Silgranit and manufactued by Blanco. Are these eco-friendly materials? The manufacturer’s website says very little on this issue so I’m dubious.
Thank you!
– Brenda

Brenda,

Hello. I have not seen this product mentioned as a particularly “green” product, but at the same time I cannot find much that is objectionable about it. I couldn’t find any info on their manufacturing processes, but here are the factors that one should consider and/or find out more about.

What goes into the product? It appears to be made of an acrylic binder and granite aggregate (i.e. small pieces or dust of granite held together with acrylic). Acrylic is not particularly toxic so I don’t believe that should be a worry. They can probably use granite that is unsuitable for use in other applications b/c it’s too small, is flawed, or is already pulverized so they may get their granite as a post-industrial waste product, which would be good. Don’t be shy in asking a sales rep about where they get their materials. If they don’t have an answer for you, that’s their problem, but maybe they will, or would be willing to find out for you. The high degree of heat resistance indicates that the material may be heat treated, which would use a lot of energy, but probably not as much as a stainless steel sink. One thing I would make sure of is that you get a sink manufactured in their New Jersey facility (rather than Canada or Germany factories). This will help reduce the amount of energy used and pollution produced in getting it to your home.

How long will it last? This product sounds pretty durable but I’ve never used one (that I know of). Ask them how long the warranty is and when it might need to be replaced. Better to get something that uses slightly more resources, but lasts twice as long.

What will become of it when it’s disposed of? Their website’s claim about recyclable materials is not particularly convincing b/c while acrylic and granite may be recyclable, once you mix them together like that, they’re hard to reuse again without a specialized recycling process. So unless they are taking the sinks back (which would be great if they are) the sink will either be reused or thrown away. How easy would it be to take out of the counter and salvage/reuse? If thrown away, it won’t be toxic, but it will fill up a landfill, whereas a stainless steel sink will likely be recycled.

Hope this helps you choose a sink, or know more about your sink if you already chose it.