The Commoditization of Something New
Looking for the latest and greatest in countertops? You can find yourself running like a lemming toward the school of thought that says that Quartz is the best option because it “performs better than granite.” But a discerning customer should have the foresight to ask the questions: “Where does this come from?” or “How is this made?” Quartz is not progressive- it is decidedly dated. It has become commoditized and is largely sourced from China and often private labeled by stone fabricators. The true thought leaders in the industry are not racing to the bottom; they are innovating for the future by finding smarter, healthier and more sustainable ways to provide a surfacing product that has a positive impact on the environment, and respects the desires of the new homebuyers who care inherently about the environment.
True innovation is found in products that have a story. Pulling material that would go to waste and incorporating it into a durable and beautiful product. This is not an easy feat, and many underachievers have fallen by the wayside attempting to enter this market and failing due to poor manufacturing, improper testing, or misrepresentations. But the survivors! The companies that jumped on the green bandwagon a decade ago and continued to adapt, improve and innovate are the true winners, and the true “new” products. These are the survivors who have withstood the tests of LEED, greenwashing critics, and others who shot holes through all the absentee product attempts that didn’t weather the punishing storm of sustainability critics.
Who are the Green Countertop Survivors? It is a unique class of companies, some of which include IceStone, PaperStone, Vetrazzo, Durat, Plyboo, TorZo, and Kirei. Additionally, there are new product categories that are addressing sustainability in a different way – not by logging recycled content or bio-based content- but providing a manufacturing technique that is low energy or low impact or presenting a longer lifetime option with greater durability.
We are in the age of the survivors from the green wave, and they are legitimate and strong and great options. This intersects with the entrée of the new sustainability age of durability and low impact – resulting in a new family of modern surfaces and recycled countertops that shelve quartz and stone in the commodity aisle where they belong.