100% recycled floor tile research project

Alusid has successfully produced high-quality, hard-wearing floor tiles made from 100% recycled waste after being named as one of the winners in the Start-Up Innovation Factory competition launched by Imerys, a world leader in minerals-based specialty solutions.

The aim of the first edition of the competition, launched last year, was to enable Imerys to research potential partners to collaborate on an innovation to meet circular economy challenges on technical themes, such as recovering and recycling construction material waste. Sixty-five start-ups from around the world were selected to participate.

Alusid has been trialling tile manufacture using six Imerys by-products over the past few months as a continuation of the competition. An Imerys team, led by Cédric Poilly, Customer Application Engineer for Ceramics EMEA, provided support. Two parallel projects were run: one making the floor tiles and the other larger items, such as coffee tables and worktops. Both proved successful, and the next step is to scale up the technology for industrial production.

Made from 100% recycled waste, 90% of which came from Imerys, the tiles use three by-products in the recipe, with scope to include additional materials directly produced by Imerys or from its customers.

The tiles have the same performance as those made from non-recycled materials, and have already attracted interest from potential customers, including a leading retail brand.

Working with Imerys on this project has expanded our available sources of recycled material and allowed us to bolster our offering with a hard-wearing, high-quality floor tile. Imerys’ extensive knowledge and their scale means they have the capacity to help us precise our business model and ultimately reduce the environmental impact of tile production. In the initial pilot trial, we had to deal with some warping and adapting with firing these unconventional materials. However, the results are promising enough for us to envision industrial trials. Our aim is to achieve porcelain stoneware classification on water absorption and breaking strength, making our tiles as good as those made from non-recycled materials.

Benefits include the use and recycling of surplus raw materials and by-products that would normally go to waste. Alusid’s processes consume less gas to manufacture than conventional tiles with energy usage potentially cut by more than 35 per cent because of lower firing temperatures and the use of dry powder granulation rather than spray drying. Water use is also reduced by up to 75 per cent.

We are currently working with a number of key customer stakeholders and our production partners to refine the product offering and scale-up production as well as validate the energy and water savings. So watch this space for more updates.

Frederic Jouffret, Imerys Vice-President, Performance Minerals Science & Technology, said: “Working with start-ups through this challenge was very educational and promising for Imerys. The challenge itself has created a more structured approach for open innovation in the future.”


The world leader in mineral-based specialty solutions for industry, with €4.4 billion revenue and 16,300 employees in 2021, Imerys delivers high value-added, functional solutions to diversified set of industrial sectors, from processing industries to consumer goods. The Group draws on its knowledge of applications, technological expertise and its material science know-how to deliver solutions based on beneficiation of its mineral resources, synthetic minerals and formulations. These contribute essential properties to customers’ products and performance, including refractoriness, hardness, conductivity, opacity, durability, purity, lightness, filtration, absorption and repellency. Imerys is determined to develop responsibly, in particular by fostering the emergence of environmentally friendly products and processes.

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