Kohler Co. Finds Innovative Reuse For Materials Once Destined For Landfill
Throughout its 137-year history, Kohler Co. has remained true to its founding vision of defining the frontiers of new ideas, craftsmanship and technology. An appreciation and commitment of sustainability and sustainable practices has been a common thread in the mindset of Kohler’s leadership and workforce since the very beginning. In an effort to reduce its manufacturing waste, the Kohler Kitchen and Bath manufacturing team has partnered with local businesses and municipalities, and even with other Kohler entities, such as Whistling Straits golf course, to create reuse programs for its discarded porcelain pieces, otherwise known as cull.
This vitreous china (porcelain) cull comes from toilets and lavatories that have not passed inspection for sale to customers. If a defect is found after glazing, the standard protocol has been to send the porcelain waste to the landfill, but, the company has been able to avoid depositing cull into landfills for the past 15 years at its pottery operations in Kohler, Wisconsin.
By partnering with Wausau Tile, Kafka Granite, the Village of Kohler, and other Kohler business ventures, Kohler has provided cull to be used as aggregate in road pavers and drainage projects, epoxy overlay, blended in concrete and tile products, and used in the golf courses drainage systems, among other projects.
“We are extremely proud that we have been able to find alternative uses for porcelain cull that support our commitment to sustainable business practices,” says Jim Lewis, vice president of Kohler brand and channel marketing. “To know that you are walking on a street paved with discarded toilets, or sit on a concrete patio bench constructed from broken sinks, it really makes you understand and appreciate that sustainability is only achievable when we can work together.”
Across the country, similar reuse programs are being tested and implemented in a variety of Kohler manufacturing locations where cull is being used in landfill roads, drainage structures and plant parking lots.
“Utilizing Kohler’s porcelain cull has proven to be a cost-effective endeavor for the Village of Kohler and its residents,” says Bruce Neerhof, Public Works and Zoning Superintendent for the Village of Kohler.
“So many times customers perceive green products as being more expensive,” says Rodney Dombrowski, vice president of operations at Wausau Tile. “But by recycling Kohler porcelain cull into our concrete and tile products, we are able to offer our EcoPremier line at basically the same price as our standard lines, making for an affordable green option in any building environment.”
An additional benefit for builders is that Wausau Tile products which utilize recycled Kohler cull will increase LEED points potential for projects through the material reuse and recovery resources section of LEED, the United States Green Building Council’s internationally recognized green building certification system. For more information on Wausau Tile’s recycled products, visit www.wausautile.com.
As a global leader in kitchen and bath design, technology and water efficiency, Kohler Co. offers plumbing products under its KOHLER and STERLING brands that are designed to conserve natural resources while remaining true to a singular level of quality of performance and design. Whether specifying plumbing products that help buildings earn LEED® water-efficiency points, reducing facility operating costs or accommodating the preferences of homeowners, environmentally friendly KOHLER fixtures and faucets address the challenging demands of customers and preserve one of our most precious natural resources. For more information on water savings and Kohler’s WaterSense-labeled products, visit www.SaveWaterAmerica.com.