Granite is a gorgeous, one of a kind stone that makes any room it's in the star of the party. But how does the mining, shipping, and processing of granite affect the environment surround it? After extensive researching and reviewing of policies worldwide, I have the answers for you.
There are a bunch of different components that determine the overall environmental impact of a product and whether or not it could be considered a green product. Some of those components are:
- Manufacturing process
Being that granite is a natural stone, the origins of the stone is anywhere there was significant heat, pressure, and magma during the formation of the land around it. Most stones that you find today are mined in Brazil, India, Italy, and China but there are other countries that have natural granite deposits. Canada, Spain, Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Namibia, Angola, and South Africa all have significant granite deposits also.
Mining granite is a very tedious and time consuming task that requires a ton of water and energy. Granite quarries are dug using hydraulic saws that use water to cool the saw blades so the machines don't break or bend. The water doesn't have to be fresh so 90% of the water that goes through the machines is recycled from runoff and rains water. In the United States, Canada, Italy, and Brazil there are mining regulations in place to guarantee that the water is filtered and ready to go back into the surrounding environments upon closing of the quarries. There's also plans to minimized the deforestation of that area and maintain as much natural foliage and plant life as possible throughout the process so reclamation of the land is possible once the quarries are dry and abandoned. Some quarries in the U.S. have even gone so far as to create parks and trails for the surrounding towns to utilize as a tourist attraction.
Although the water is reusable and there are ways for them to maintain a cleaner, more green way of functioning, energy is a huge factor in mining granite. Most companies that manufacture mining equipment have moved towards more sustainable means of fuel such as solar power and battery operated or hybrid engines but most machines still require some for of oil, whether it be for fuel or lubrication.
Transportation is the second biggest concern when it comes to sustainable sources. Because most quarries are overseas or thousands of miles away, there is a lot of shipping and trucking associated with moving the slabs. Because ships predominantly still run on coal, it's a rather unsustainable means of transportation but flying granite isn't an easy task because of how massive these pieces can be and the weight of the bundles. Using ships is the best way to transport slabs from overseas and very far distances just for the fact that they can carry large quantities of stone at once and they don't have size and space restrictions. It's just too bad they aren't solar powered.
Once the ships unload at a port granite can be transported by rail or truck depending on the destination. Because most trains are converting to electric engines they are turning into a more sustainable and green option for transportation. There are still diesel engine trains but they produce about as much smog and pollution as a diesel truck, which is surprisingly pretty low considering regulations imposed by the Department of Transportation.
Disposing of granite is a very easy to do since it's such a highly sought after stone. Because of it's high durability and popularity, granite has a huge resale value. Many people who remodel their homes can resell the old granite, depending on the condition it's in upon removal, which makes it an extremely sustainable stone.