“We believe that waste is only waste because we’ve defined it that way”. These poignant lines come from Kohler’s 2020 Believing in Better Metrics Report. It sums up the world-renowned plumbing company’s approach to sustainability in present times. Kohler’s adoption of the three R’s – reduce, re-use, and recycle – is worthy of a second look. Kohler WasteLAB also partnered with ANN SACKS to launch The Crackle Collection.
Sustainability is one of the major concerns that dominate today’s world. In a day and age when consumers are socially and environmentally conscious, companies are being forced to make changes to their operations for the better. The introduction of the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and Declare labels has made the process more transparent. Such labels are third-party verified and include chemical makeup, life expectancy, and any materials that go into making it.
This allows consumers to go for products that align with their opinions and beliefs. The move has been enthusiastically received and requests for EPDs have increased ten-fold. In 2020, Kohler received multiple transparency requests, wherein 65 percent were for EPDs and the remaining 35 percent for Declare Labels.
When we talk about sustainability and environmental-friendly products, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works today may not be tomorrow. In other words, designing sustainable and eco-friendly products is a never-ending process. Companies are always on the lookout for greener ways to go about the entire process.
Kohler’s involvement in greener solutions started as a response to calls for cleaner and lesser chemical toxicity impacts. The in-house incubator, Innovation for Good, is a product of this response and has successfully initiated very successful projects like WasteLAB – a unique concept that draws upon biomimicry as a guiding principle and inspiration.
WasteLAB focuses on recycling and reusing waste materials like foundry dust, pottery cull, and enamel powder. The recovered materials are used in the manufacturing of products like tiles and coasters. The concept has found many takers and is a major win for sustainability. Kohler WasteLAB also partnered with ANN SACKS to launch The Crackle Collection. The collection consists of tiles made from recycled dry pottery cull. The success of the project is demonstrated by the 6,000 sq. ft. of Crackle Collection that has been sold to date.
Determined not to rest on its laurels, Kohler WasteLAB has already initiated a new project. The focus will be on devising innovative ways to convert wastewater sludge into commercially viable products, like tiles. Research and development projects centered around this idea will lay the groundwork for future projects.
Sustainability when it comes to designing and manufacturing building materials. Incorporating green components and methods of construction will have a huge impact on the way we interact with our environment. When it comes to sustainability, Kohler certainly has found THE way.