Granite repurposing good for business, environment

April 12, 2011 9:08:22 AM PDT
Roughly 135 million tons of construction debris ends up in landfills each year, but Julie Rizzo is trying to cut that number down.

Granite is a beautiful and pricey natural stone used to upgrades many homes. But an estimated 500 million pounds of it is thrown away in the U.S. country every year. That number is slowly shrinking because of a clever partnership for recycling and re-use.

Granite Innovation, is a stone fabricator and installer. "We do countertops, counters in buildings, flooring in buildings anything that you see that is stone, we probably have done," Sandya Dandamudi, owner, Granite Innovation, Inc., said.

Dandamudi is working on countertops that will border sinks in a Chicago hotel. She says for every piece of granite that's cut about 20-percent goes to waste. It's an expensive loss, but a new partnership is helping her to significantly cut costs.

"Not only is it cost-effective for us in the logistics in how the materials is removed from here, how to put it on pallets, but when we actually throw stone away we're spending a considerable amount of money for it to be hauled away. For us, probably about $100,000 a year," Dandamudi.

That tab dropped by about 75-percent after she paired up with Julie Rizzo, owner Recycled Granite,

"I started out working at a granite fabrication company and I would see thousands of pounds of materials being thrown away in the dumpster every single week. A truck would come and haul it away and I knew that stuff was beautiful. I knew there had to be something else to do with it," said Rizzo, who now partners with local companies to haul away their granite scraps. At her small northwest Indiana shop, she repurposes the pieces.

"It's used for backsplashes, fireplaces, barbecues any application that you would see stone, it would be used in the exact same way," Rizzo said.

Rizzo's efforts started three years ago in her garage and skyrocketed. She's now getting orders from all over the country. She says repurposing the granite is good for her business, the granite dealers and the environment.

"We recycle at least 10,000 pounds of stone per month and that's just with the small group of people here. We can easily quadruple that in the next four months," Rizzo said.