From Sept. 24-28, more than 100,000 tile and bathroom fixture enthusiasts gathered in Bologna, Italy, for Cersaie 2012. This year's edition of the annual show, which was also the 30th anniversary, saw many new product introductions, with a number of exhibitors highlighting their sustainable manufacturing processes and product offerings.
The Italian tile sector continues to work on reducing its environmental footprint. Since 1980, the amount of energy required to produce one square meter of ceramic tile has dropped by more than 50 percent, from 47.7 kcal per square meter to 20.5 kcal per square meter, according to Confindustria Ceramica, the Italian ceramic tile association. Manufacturing improvements include the addition of high-efficiency, single-layer kilns; single-firing production cycles; cogeneration systems at plants; renewable energy use in manufacturing processes; and air-purification systems that collected lead, fluroine, and particulate emissions from manufacturing. Confindustria Cermica reported that in 2008, 97 percent of companies in the ceramic tile sector were reusing their waste water from production processes, and that 99.5 percent of production and purification waste is reused in the production cycle.
Aesthetically, this year's show was dominated by neutral tones and patterns mimicing natural surfaces, with a large emphasis on wood replications. Manufacturers also continue to explore thin-tile offerings, with several 3-mm-thick introductions that are engineered to maintain a thinner profile without compromising tile strength. Here is a sampling of some of this year's offerings: