Can Quartz Countertops Be Recycled?

Quartz countertops have become an increasingly popular option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects in recent years. Made from ground quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments, quartz offers a durable and stylish alternative to natural stone and laminate countertops.

However, one question that often comes up is what to do with quartz countertops at the end of their lifespan. Can quartz countertops be recycled? Or do they end up in landfills like so many other building materials?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the recyclability of quartz countertops, including:

What Makes Up a Quartz Countertop

Before examining recycling options, it helps to understand exactly what comprises a quartz countertop. The key ingredients include:

  • Quartz crystals – Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. It is extremely hard and durable. Quartz crystals are mined, crushed into a fine powder, and mixed with resins and pigments. Quartz comprises over 90% of the material in a quartz countertop by weight.
  • Polyester resins – After quartz, polyester resins are the next biggest ingredient in quartz countertops. Resins act as the “glue” that binds the quartz particles together. Standard resins are petroleum-based. Some manufacturers now use bio-based resins made from plants.
  • Pigments – Small amounts of pigments are added to resins to create the color and pattern options. Titanium dioxide is commonly used for white quartz. Synthetic pigments create other colors.
  • Other additives – Small quantities of additives like polymers, curing agents, and crushed glass may be used. These enhance certain properties of the material.

So in summary, quartz countertops are an engineered composite material made mostly of natural quartz aggregates held together by a polymer resin binder. This combination maximizes the durability, hardness, and aesthetic potential compared to natural stone.

Are Quartz Countertops Recyclable?

With the basics covered, let’s dive into the big question at hand – can you recycle quartz countertops at the end of their useful life?

The short answer is yes, quartz countertops are recyclable, but options remain limited compared to more mainstream recycling streams like paper, plastic, glass and metals.

Quartz countertops are an engineered composite material that does not exist naturally. This makes recycling quartz more complex than pure natural stone materials. However, dedicated recycling programs are emerging as the popularity of quartz countertops continues to grow.

Post-Consumer vs Post-Industrial Recycling

To understand quartz countertop recycling, it helps to distinguish between post-consumer and post-industrial recycling streams:

  • Post-consumer recycling involves taking a used product that has reached end-of-life and recycling it into something new. This includes recycling old quartz countertops removed from buildings during renovations.
  • Post-industrial recycling refers to recycling manufacturing scrap and waste back into usable material within the manufacturing process. With quartz countertops, this often includes recycled resin, pigments, and quartz particles.

Most quartz recycling happens through post-industrial channels. However, post-consumer recycling programs are starting to emerge to handle old countertops.

Quartz Countertop Manufacturers with Recycling Programs

Many major quartz countertop brands now offer recycling programs to reclaim used countertops. This includes:

  • Caesarstone – Their environmental program includes using recycled content in manufacturing and accepting old countertops for recycling. They partner with vendors across North America to recycle old quartz material.
  • Cambria – Cambria allows consumers to ship used quartz samples and countertop pieces back to the company for recycling. Their program is called Cambria CARE.
  • Cosentino – For their Dekton brand, Cosentino offers an industrial collection service to pick up scrap and remnants for recycling in Spain and North America.
  • Pokarna – Through their Envi program, Pokarna recycles close to 100% of manufacturing quartz scrap. They also recycle old countertops returned from consumer projects.
  • QuartzMaster – QuartzMaster recycles nearly 100% of its resin, quartz, and pigment waste through internal processes. They also accept old countertops for recycling from customers.
  • Silestone – Silestone partners with vendors across North America to collect used quartz countertops for recycling. They aim for zero quartz waste going to landfills.

Other brands, like MSI Quartz, are actively exploring recycling initiatives as well. Consumers should reach out to specific manufacturers for current recycling options.

Independent Quartz Recycling Programs

Beyond manufacturer initiatives, some private companies now focus specifically on quartz countertop recycling. These provide recycling options regardless of the original brand. For instance:

  • Bedrock Quartz Surfaces works directly with fabricators and contractors to recycle quartz material. They grind and crush old countertops into specification powder for reuse in manufacturing.
  • Green Circle Salons collectsquartz Salon scrap for recycling into new countertop material. They also take back old quartz pieces.
  • Polycor provides quartz recycling services in North America for post-industrial and post-consumer quartz waste streams. They reuse the material in various applications.

So in summary, while still an emerging industry, more recycling access points are emerging for old quartz countertops. Manufacturers, private recyclers, fabricators, and installers can all provide handling options.

How Are Quartz Countertops Recycled?

Now that we’ve covered the main recycling channels available, how does the actual quartz recycling process work? What happens to old quartz pieces and surfaces?

There are two main approaches used to recycle quartz material:

1. Crushing and Reusing Quartz Particles

With this method, old quartz countertops and manufacturing remnants are crushed back down into a fine quartz powder. This reclaimed material can displace freshly mined quartz aggregates during manufacturing. Here are the key steps:

  • Old countertops are collected and transported to a quartz recycling facility.
  • The material is broken apart and crushed into small pieces using heavy machinery.
  • Powerful grinding mills process the small fragments into a fine powder.
  • Magnets, air separators, and vibrating screens remove non-quartz contaminants.
  • The reclaimed quartz powder is bagged and sold to quartz manufacturers.
  • The recycled material directly replaces a percentage of new quartz aggregates.

This approach recovers the valuable quartz particles while keeping them in use.

2. Thermal Processing and Separation

A second recycling method relies on heat instead of crushing to separate and recover key material streams. The steps include:

  • Old quartz countertops are collected and transported to a thermal recycling facility.
  • The material is fed into a thermal processor or kiln capable of reaching over 1000°F.
  • The intense heat breaks down the resins binding the quartz particles together.
  • The melted resin separates from the quartz and flows out of the kiln into a collection tank.
  • Quartz crystals remain solid and are removed as an inert material stream.
  • Segregated resin and quartz components can both be reused in manufacturing.

This thermal approach allows the resin and the quartz to be individually reclaimed instead of just crushing the composite material together.

Benefits of Quartz Countertop Recycling

Recycling quartz delivers important sustainability benefits:

  • Reduces waste – Recycling provides an end-of-life solution to divert used quartz from landfill disposal. Old countertops are a valuable material resource instead of waste.
  • Saves resources – Recycled quartz offsets the need for virgin quartz mining and aggregates. It also reduces resin use by reclaiming old binders.
  • Saves energy – Reusing quartz and resin takes less energy than producing them from scratch. Thermal recycling can also recover energy from the material.
  • Reduces carbon emissions – When quartz doesn’t end up in landfills, it avoids greenhouse gas emissions from decomposition. Transport emissions are lower too.
  • Generates income – Recycling creates jobs and economic activity. Old quartz has value as a reusable material rather than being thrown away.
  • Drives innovation – Recycling pushes manufacturers to enhance the sustainability of quartz products through better design and closed-loop practices.

In short, quartz recycling complements other sustainability efforts like green energy use, bio-based resins, and product durability. It provides a crucial end-of-life solution.

Limitations and Challenges to Quartz Recycling

While interest is growing, quartz countertop recycling also comes with certain limitations and barriers:

  • Lack of infrastructure – There are not recycling collection points everywhere, making participation difficult in some areas. More recycling access is needed.
  • Contamination – If old countertops are contaminated with adhesives or other attachments, this makes recycling more difficult. Proper removal is important.
  • Material degradation – Heavily worn or etched quartz loses physical properties. This reduces the quality and options for reuse compared to pristine material.
  • Transportation logistics – Transporting bulky countertops long distances to recycling centers costs time and money. More localized options are optimal.
  • Cost – Currently recycling usually comes with a fee, whereas landfilling broken pieces may be free. Improved economics are needed.
  • Limited technology – While growing, commercial quartz recycling technology is still emerging. Processing capabilities are not ubiquitous yet.

Overcoming these challenges will enable quartz recycling to scale up and make an even bigger sustainability impact.

How to Recycle Quartz Countertops

If you are remodeling and removing old quartz countertops, here are some recommendations for responsible recycling:

  • Contact your countertop manufacturer – See if they offer a quartz take-back and recycling program. This is often the most straightforward option.
  • Ask your fabricator or installer – Many shops now recycle their own quartz waste. Inquire if they can also handle recycling old countertops they remove.
  • Look for local recyclers – Search for companies recycling construction and demolition waste in your region that may accept quartz.
  • Consider donating – Quartz remnants and offcut scraps may be donated to schools, craft groups, or DIYers for smaller projects.
  • List for free – Try listing old quartz pieces for free on websites like Craigslist for DIY reuse by others.
  • Ship to recyclers – If no local options exist, check companies that let you ship old countertop pieces to their facilities.

Following these steps will help ensure your used quartz has the best chance of being responsibly recycled.

The Future of Quartz Countertop Recycling

Quartz countertop recycling is still in a growth phase. While programs exist, scaling up recycling rates and capabilities remains an ongoing process. However, the outlook is positive for several reasons:

  • Manufacturer initiatives – More and more quartz brands are launching take-back and recycling programs to improve sustainability.
  • Process improvements – Recycling technologies and capacity are advancing to handle increased volumes more cost-effectively.
  • Industry collaboration – Groups like the Quartz Council are bringing companies together to promote quartz recycling industry-wide.
  • Fabricator adoption – As demand grows, more fabricators are offering recycling services to their customers.
  • Circular business models – Some companies are going “full circle” by making new countertops completely from recycled quartz.
  • Consumer awareness – Eco-conscious consumers increasingly favor options like recycled quartz and may pay a green premium.

In the years ahead, quartz recycling should become even more widespread and standardized within the industry. Quartz can join other construction materials like concrete, metals, and glass that are commonly recycled today. This will significantly benefit the sustainability of countertop installations.

Can Quartz Countertops Be Recycled?: Key Takeaways

  • Quartz countertops are a composite of crushed quartz, polyester resins, and pigments, making them recyclable but more complex than pure materials.
  • Recycling happens through post-industrial and post-consumer channels, with manufacturers starting take-back programs.
  • Two main methods are crushing and reusing quartz particles, or thermal processing to separate components.
  • Recycling reduces waste, saves resources, lowers carbon emissions, generates income, and pushes sustainability.
  • Scaling up recycling faces challenges like infrastructure, contamination, costs, and technology limitations.
  • Consumers have growing options to responsibly recycle through manufacturers, fabricators, recyclers, donations, and resale.
  • Quartz recycling is projected to increase through innovations in processes, collaboration, and circular business models.

In summary, quartz countertops offer durability and beauty. And with proper end-of-life handling, they can also be an environmentally sustainable choice through ongoing recycling efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Recycling Quartz Countertops

Can you put quartz countertops in the garbage?

It is not recommended to dispose of quartz countertops by putting them in your regular garbage. They contain large amounts of quartz aggregates and polymer resins that take a very long time to break down in landfill conditions. Whenever possible, quartz countertops should be recycled instead of landfilled.

Do quartz countertops release toxic chemicals when landfilled?

In general, quartz countertops are considered chemically inert and non-hazardous when disposed of in landfills. The polymer resins do slowly decompose over time, releasing greenhouse gases, but no highly toxic chemicals that would pose risks of soil or water contamination. Recycling is still preferred to conserve resources and avoid pollution.

Can you recycle quartz yourself?

There is very limited ability for do-it-yourself quartz recycling at home. The countertop material is an engineered composite that requires industrial grinding, crushing, or thermal equipment to separate and process the components for reuse. The best option is to utilize an established quartz recycling program through your manufacturer, retailer, or independent recycler.

How much quartz material is currently recycled?

Estimates indicate over 90% of pre-consumer quartz manufacturing waste is recycled back into the production process. However, post-consumer recycling of old countertops removed from buildings is still emerging. Total recycling rates likely remain below 25% for all quartz waste. But capacity is expanding quickly with new initiatives and infrastructure.

Does recycled quartz perform the same as new quartz?

When processed correctly, recycled crushed quartz and separated resins can be reused with negligible difference in performance compared to brand new materials. Manufacturers design quartz surfaces for longevity, so recycled content maintains the same standards and provides equal durability. Using recycled quartz has no impact on countertop quality or appearance.

Is recycled quartz more expensive than regular quartz?

Currently, recycled quartz is often slightly more expensive due to additional processing steps and smaller economies of scale compared to quartz made purely from new materials. However, costs are coming down as recycling technology improves. And some consumers are willing to pay a small premium for the sustainability of recycled quartz.


Quartz countertops offer homeowners and designers an extremely durable, low-maintenance, and stylish surface. Fortunately, quartz also offers the possibility of recycling thanks to emerging initiatives. Consumers increasingly expect and demand sustainable practices like recycling from manufacturers. This will only accelerate progress as quartz recycling capabilities continue to grow.

Responsibly recycling old quartz countertops keeps valuable materials in use, minimizes waste, reduces carbon emissions, and helps drive broader innovation in sustainable product design and circular lifecycle principles. Specifying recycled quartz is an excellent way for consumers to lower the environmental impact of their next remodeling project. With participation from manufacturers, fabricators, installers, and recyclers, quartz countertops can move steadily toward a closed-loop future.