Recycled Glass Countertops

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.

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12 thoughts on “Recycled Glass Countertops”

  1. Dear Writer,
    We fabricate a product called IceStone which is similar to Vetrazzo but made on the east coast. In terms of your concern with price the product is in fact more costly to make than you assume. One these are new products that are being made by start-up companies. Therefore it is not a big corporation making them. That being said they have alot of start up costs to cover, the process for making the stuff is rather extensive and may in fact be more extensive than Marble or Granite. Also they pay there employees correctly. Also, neither companies have a full distribution chain set-up which makes it harder to get to the end user.

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  2. Up here in Canada these products are stupidly expensive.
    Either they come down in price by a huge margin, or the majority of folks are going to be sticking with laminate.

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  3. The problem with people who think they price correctly is they won’t sell what people can’t afford. So the whole issue becomes mute. That is part of the problem with America right now, not the entire problem because we have a bigger picture that has many issues that cause the whole root problem.
    Think back to the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even most of the 70’s. People were happy to make a comfortable living, making a profit to cover current expenses and be able to put some away for the future. Since the late 70’s and forward, thinking has changed to what can we do to make it rich quick. Many of those folks are now out of business.
    I feel the same about many products and refuse to buy thing that I feel are far overpriced.

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  4. Assuming these are handmade, I would also add that there is an artistic quality then and each one is unique. I did and still do a lot of art projects with collages; also I helped do some stonework on our old house…it’s not easy and it’s very time consuming to piece things together in a way that looks good.
    To Shels -by all means make your own things if you feel something is overpriced. I’ve learned to make a lot because I cannot afford to buy them. However I do run my own business and can tell you that in order to have a business selling a product, you must sell at a price that covers things like shipping, labor, marketing, insurance…Like someone else said it costs alot to be in business- small business owners are getting hit HARD by the rise in gas prices and everything else.
    Personally I’m will (provided I can afford it) to pay more for a product that is well made and more expensive if it brings business to the “little guy”… Keep your cheap products from WalMart & HomeDepot, I’ll pay more for someone who has a passion for what he/she is doing and also keeping junk out of a land fill.
    Most of the folks who are out of business are the small “mom and pop” shops…. Just something to think about.

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  5. Being late to this discussion, I wanted to add that these counter tops are not exactly “handmade”. I watched a company make them on one of the HGTV or TLC channels a few years ago. They just selected the glass colors and mixed them into some concrete. The concrete dries into it’s counter top shape, they sand it to smoothness and seal it. It looked so simple and I thought it had to be affordable, but came to the same conclusion as many others…it’s just too expensive. And many of these “small” companies distribute to Lowe’s and Home Depot. So now, my husband and I just bought a new house that is in desperate need of a kitchen redo…and while I love the recycled glass counter tops, they are way beyond our budget and I am also of the opinion that if I was going to spend that much money, I might as well go with the real deal and get granite. But I’ve noticed some of these laminate companies are making amazing counter tops that look like granite and have depth to them. I understand profits need to be made, but let’s be reasonable.

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  6. I am about to remodel my kitchen and would absolutely be putting in glass if the cost was less, but as it currently stands I am going with granite. I understand the production limitations that make glass more expensive than granite right now, and I hope that as the product becomes more popular the price will come down.

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  7. yeah, I, too, love this product and being a recycled product doesn’t have anything to do with my liking it. I would love to have it on my countertops that I will soon be remodeling but 55.00/sq foot is cheap…..today, August 2013, it’s well over 100.00/sq ft…….the problem is the gap between the wealthy is getting wealthier and the poor are getting poorer, leaving people like me in the middle — stuck! Think I’ll talk to a surfboard maker and see if he can do something with recycled glass and resin…..hmmmmmm…..something to ponder.

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  8. I have been researching this as well, its way too expensive to be sustainable, it would be a great use of recycled products; however no one is going to choose this over stone if its that close in price. It has disadvantages compared to stone and lets be honest you can make this yourself, there are some instructionals online, why would I pay an arm and a leg for it. IceStone said they pay their employees what they deserve and are covering start up costs, as if they will lower the price after those were covered…yeah right!

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  9. I agree with the person who states that the need to recoup start up cost on the first company is killing small businesses. These small businesses are given tax breaks, grants and low interest loans to set up a 7 yr business plan. Use it if you are passionate about your product!

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  10. I love these , very pretty and so durable . I would recommend them to anyone who want to freshen up baths or kitchens .Recycled glass is so beautiful.These are just a few of so many different colors.

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