I want to shy away from granite countertops when I re-do my kitchen next year, so I was excited to learn about recycled glass countertops this weekend. A company called Vetrazzo in Richmond, California is one of several places making these sustainable countertops. I really like this idea, but I think the product is overpriced. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Vetrazzo’s countertops are “glass with a binder of cement, additives, pigments and other recycled materials such as fly ash – a waste by-product of coal burning power plants,” according to their website. As far as I can tell, the countertops are glass that has been stuck in cement and treated to be used in a kitchen. All the glass is recycled:
Our largest source of glass is the neighborhood curbside recycling programs. (See if you can spot last night’s Heineken bottle…) Other glass comes from post-industrial usage, windows, drinking glasses, stemware, automotive glass, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, and other unusual sources such as decommissioned traffic light lenses. Because of the unique nature of the glass used in the production process, every Vetrazzo surface has its own history
For example, this is their Colbalt Skyy countertop, made from Skyy Vodka bottles:
I also liked Bistro Green:
“The glass in this mix is from your kitchen… your soda bottles, olive oil containers, pickle jars, wine and water bottles could have been waste. Instead here they are, made into something beautiful: Bistro Green.”
And finally, check out Alehouse Amber, made from beer bottles:
I was excited about this product until I discovered that these countertops cost about $55/square foot. I don’t understand this pricing. A marble countertop means that the stone has to be quarried, shipped, processed, manufactured, and shipped again. The price is all in the shaping of the natural product into something you can use in your kitchen. On top of that, it is a limited resource and in demand by consumers, which further drives up the cost.
But recycled glass countertops? First of all, this is concrete and glass. The glass, I assume, would be easy to come by and cheap, if not free. After all, it’s essentially trash. And everyone knows that concrete is one of the cheapest options for counter tops. So even assuming that there is some high tech equipment involved here, I don’t understand how Vetrazzo gets away with that kind of pricing. They must be making a huge profit on every countertop at that rate, since manufacturing has to be much cheaper than stone. Or am I missing something?
Anyway, when recycled glass countertops are priced the same as upscale stones, my interest in the product wanes. “Going green” only goes so far with me and then you have to also have good pricing and practicality into the mix. But that’s just me. I still think these counter tops are neat and colorful addition to any kitchen. And they definitely tell a story.