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August 14, 2019

Are Kitchen Laminate Countertops Environmentally Friendly? 


kitchen laminate countertopsAs the eco-friendly movement gains in momentum, homeowners are seeking to make more “green” home improvement choices and, in doing, so are wondering whether or not kitchen laminate countertops are environmentally kind.  As with every kind of substance it has its strengths and its weaknesses in terms of its impact on the Earth.  The depth of this impact is what has people wondering, as it is not as obvious as it is with other materials such granite.  Use the following information about the modern manufacture of kitchen laminate countertops to help you to decide if this material has passed your “green” test.

The uglier side of kitchen laminate countertops

In truth, kitchen laminate countertops have come a long way since they were first invented and many of its manufacturers, such as the Formica Corporation have put a number of eco-friendly options and policies into place to allow homeowners to feel better in the knowledge that their choice of this low cost home improvement kitchen product is not causing the harm to the environment that it once did.  That said, the resins of some counters may still include urea formaldehyde. 

Moreover, the surfaces are not made from recycled plastic, meaning that this petroleum product must still be manufactured from scratch.  The resins in some products may also contain phenols, which can be harmful to your health and to the environment.  Though phenols may not do anything while they are sitting there as a part of your kitchen d├ęcor, if the surface is badly damaged, or if the counter needs to be cut or broken down, protective masks, gloves, and clothing should be worn and the area should be well cleaned afterward.

The eco-friendly side of kitchen laminate countertops

The Formica Corporation which produces kitchen laminate countertops has gone to great lengths in order to make their company more environmentally friendly, placing a significant focus on sustainability.  For that reason, they have put into place many policies that have allowed them to offer much “greener” kitchen laminate countertops to designers, architects, and you, the homeowner.  So far, aside from the strategies for running the building locations themselves (such as energy efficiency), the environmentally friendly efforts that have been put into place specifically for the production and manufacture of Formica kitchen laminate countertops are as follows:

  • Certification from GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality for low-emitting materials.
  • Rated by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for environmentally friendly design and manufacture.
  • The use of wood certified by the independent third-party sustainability and environmental claim certifier, Scientific Certification Systems ( SCS).  The wood used in kitchen laminate countertops is required to meet strict requirements and is tracked from the source in well-managed forests, through to their use in high-pressure decorative counters.
  • Plants that produce kitchen laminate countertops respect all relevant national, state or provincial, and local regulations for noise level, air quality and emissions, waste disposal for liquids and solids, and water discharges.
  • Recycled content raw materials are used for kitchen laminate countertops production, having been recycled within their own Fletcher buildings.  Recycled content includes pre- and post-consumer recycled wood fiber.  Products typically contain 10.7 percent of their weight in recycled content, depending on the grade of the kitchen laminate countertops.
  • Scrap laminate is now used by the Formica Corporation by cutting it down and turning it into a product that replaces drilling mud, instead of simply sending it to landfills.  Any usable pieces of leftover laminate are cut down to the next appropriate size so that they may be salvaged.
  • The packaging for shipping kitchen laminate countertops is manufactured out of recycled products and can then be re-used, recycled, and is biodegradable.
  • Product samples of kitchen laminate countertops are made out of collected pieces of the material during a line change at the plants.

Some corporations manufacturing kitchen laminate countertops have clearly gone to great lengths to make certain that the surface sheets are as eco-friendly as possible.

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