Adam Teal of Kaldewei explains why sustainability is now a key aspect for specifiers when planning bathrooms, as the industry restarts in earnest.
During World Earth Day this year, Delhi experienced the cleanest air quality on record, Greta Thunberg met Sir David Attenborough, and America promised to cut its emissions in half by the end of the decade. With so much discussion focusing on the environment, consumers are more aware than ever before of the damage that pollution and long term waste does to the globe.
The increasing awareness of the need for sustainability and environmental understanding within the industry is becoming more and more apparent, as we once again start to work on projects and developments.
In general, people are making decisions on a daily basis that will have a positive impact on the environment. This extends to their homes, and more specifically bathrooms – whether new build or refurbishment, they are going green.
In the 1950s, an annual total of 1.5 million tons of plastic was produced worldwide; today that figure has reached an incredible 400 million tons. Plastic products such as toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles that are used every day in the bathroom account for a large proportion of that waste, but so to do the larger acrylic items.
Consumers are more aware of the waste they create than ever before, and are taking steps to reduce this, from the day-to-day essentials such as biodegradable toilet roll and eco-friendly cleaning products through to the larger items. In the UK, homeowners will on average replace their bathroom fittings every 15 years, so whether your project is a new build or complete refurbishment, specifiers need to take longevity and sustainability into account. Helping the environment does not mean limited choice, just as there are so many aspects to going green, there are a wide and varied range of sanitaryware products to choose from.
Saving water is one of the key elements and most leading brands have water and energy saving technologies as part of their offering. Stylish showerheads, mixers and single taps have been designed to ensure people use less water in the shower or bath. If they use a dual flush toilet they will use only 20 per cent of the water in a traditional toilet. A composting toilet means no water usage at all, however this is not for everyone.
Hygiene is currently a key topic, and is also an important aspect of a green bathroom. Rimless toilets and those whose surfaces have a specific coating designed to combat bacteria make them easier to clean, so less water is needed and harmful cleaning chemicals are not required.
For flooring, there is the option to go for the natural look using original or reclaimed floor boards; if that’s not possible reclaimed tiles or biodegradable and recyclable cork are possible options. Cork floors have amazing eco credentials and are warm, soundproof and soft underfoot, as well as also being surprisingly hard wearing.
For the larger bathroom items, the physical materials used to create the sanitaryware should be taken into account when it comes to maximising sustainability in a bathroom specification. Look for a company that offers an extensive or lifelong guarantee, and which has strong green credentials.
Adam Teal is head of Sales at Kaldewei UK