An eco-friendly approach to sanitaryware
The integration of ceramic sanitaryware products into bathroom furniture or pre-assembled kits is developing thanks to a better dimensional control of the ceramic pieces.
Traditionally, during the firing process of sanitaryware, ceramic pieces are placed onto kiln furniture. The extreme heat causes the ceramic pieces to shrink, creating friction with the kiln furniture it sits on, often resulting in defects such as glaze chipping or foot deformation on the final piece.
Typically, manufacturers use disposable tiles to reduce the occurrence of such defects, placing them between the ceramic piece and the kiln furniture. The solution is an effective one, but the environmental impact is questionable, as disposable plates generate a significant amount of waste: around 3 tons for 1,000 toilets produced. This waste is usually disposed of to landfill or sent to incineration, but rarely recycled. Furthermore, producing single-use tiles involves energy, water and raw material consumption.
To create a more sustainable solution, we developed ShrinkSan, a patented kiln furniture system capable of managing piece contraction during firing while remaining reusable and therefore sustainable.
ShrinkSan kiln furniture can be used more than 800 times, allowing sanitaryware producers to reduce the amount of waste they generate significantly.
ShrinkSan is a kiln furniture system based on four mobile elements placed on a refractory batt. The mobile elements are blocked by an organic spacer and the sanitaryware piece is loaded on top. During firing, the organic spacer decomposes allowing the elements to mirror the contraction of the sanitaryware piece. After firing, the system can be easily reset by positioning a new organic spacer between the mobile elements.
This system has been tested and is operational in several sanitaryware factories across Europe.
It effectively replaces disposable plates used during the firing of ceramic toilets, resulting in a lower environmental footprint and a better output.
In a nutshell, this invention:
- Reduces waste by around 3 tons for 1,000 toilets
- Mirrors the differential contraction of the toilet piece
- Reduces number of cracks and rejects, as it absorbs more than 75% of the firing shrinkage and reduces the friction of the sanitaryware pieces
A full Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) has been conducted by PwC in June 2021 and the results are undisputable:
- carbon emissions using ShrinkSan solution are 76% lower compared to the disposable plates
- using ShrinkSan reduces the total Carbon footprint of toilet production by -6%
Furthermore, it offers several advantages over disposable tiles, including easy set-up and maintenance, an open design that eases heat transfer, and an ability to better follow the differential contraction of ceramic pieces.
Shrinksan: an Imerys Pioneer product
Shrinksan is a reusable alternative to single-use plates that significantly decreases sanitaryware producers' manufacturing and transport carbon footprints. By avoiding about three tons of waste for every 1,000 toilet pieces fired, ShrinkSan is has been certified an Imerys Pioneer product. This means it provides the highest social and environmental contribution to the downstream value chain, while demonstrating a low environmental impact in its production phase, compared to its economic value. Pioneer is our highest sustainability rating denoting products and services with outstanding sustainability performance compared to the reference on the market.