Is Quartz Countertop Eco Friendly?

When it comes to choosing a material for kitchen countertops or other surfaces, eco-friendliness is an important consideration for many homeowners. Quartz has become a popular option, touted for its durability, style, and low maintenance. But is quartz truly an environmentally sustainable choice for countertops? Let’s take a deeper look at the eco-friendly qualities of quartz.

What is Quartz Countertop?

Quartz countertops, also known as engineered stone, are made from ground natural quartz crystals combined with polyester resins and pigments. The quartz content typically makes up 90-94% of the material, while resins account for 6-10%.

Unlike natural stone countertops which are cut directly from stone slabs, quartz countertops are manufactured in factories under precise conditions. The manufacturing process allows for a wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes. Quartz is non-porous, stain-resistant, and heat-resistant, making it an attractive choice for heavy-use kitchen counters.

Is Quartz Eco-Friendly? Factors to Consider

There are a few important factors to weigh when evaluating the eco-friendliness of quartz:

Sourcing of Raw Materials

The quartz used in countertops is an abundant natural material, mined from the earth in various locations. There are environmental impacts from quartz mining, similar to other mined substances like granite or marble. However, quartz is relatively plentiful and sourcing is often local to manufacturing facilities, reducing transportation emissions.

Polyester resins used to bind the quartz materials also have impacts from production. Manufacturers are increasingly incorporating recycled resin content to improve the eco-profile of their quartz products.

Manufacturing Process

Quartz countertop manufacturing is an energy-intensive process. There are typically emissions from energy used in extraction of raw materials, transportation, and high heat and pressure molding processes.

However, manufacturers have been adopting more efficient production technologies and pollution controls to minimize the footprint. For example, Bretonstone, a leading manufacturer, uses a vacuum vibrocompression molding process that recycles excess materials, resulting in nearly zero waste.

Recycled Content

Some quartz countertop products incorporate recycled materials like glass, mirrors, porcelain, and recycled quartz chips. Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone are among the major brands offering recycled-content options. The higher the recycled percentage, the better from an eco standpoint.

Product Lifespan

Once installed, quartz counters are designed to last a very long time (and warrantied for 15-20 years). The durable non-porous material resists scratches, stains, chips, and heat damage better than many alternatives like granite or marble. This reduces the environmental impacts associated with frequent replacement of countertops.

Low Maintenance

Quartz requires very little maintenance compared to other natural stone counters. Simple cleaning with soap and water is enough to keep quartz pristine. The lack of sealing required can make quartz a greener choice long-term.

Safety Certifications

Reputable quartz brands ensure their products meet health and safety standards for indoor air quality. Quartz does not require chemical sealants or waxes with high VOC off-gassing potential. Products certified under standards like GREENGUARD can provide assurance of safe, low-emission materials.

How Does Quartz Compare to Other Countertop Materials?

Evaluating the eco-friendliness of quartz is largely relative. How does it compare against popular countertop alternatives like granite, marble, concrete, laminate, or wood?

Quartz vs. Granite

  • Granite is a natural stone, but still has environmental impacts from quarrying and transportation.
  • Granite requires regular sealing to prevent stains. The sealants used can off-gas VOCs.
  • Quartz is engineered for more durability and stain-resistance compared to natural granite.
  • Overall, quartz and granite have relatively comparable eco-profiles. Quartz may be slightly greener due to reduced maintenance.

Quartz vs. Marble

  • Marble is softer and more prone to etching/staining than quartz, requiring more frequent sealing and occasional replacement. This gives quartz an advantage for lifespan and maintenance.
  • Marble countertops can be a greener choice if locally sourced since it does not undergo energy-intensive manufacturing.
  • However, marble has natural veining patterns so cannot match the continuous look of quartz.

Quartz vs. Concrete

  • Concrete counters are site-built, reducing transportation impacts versus prefab quartz.
  • Concrete is susceptible to staining, cracking, and needs re-sealing similar to natural stone. Quartz is more durable.
  • Concrete uses no resins but quartz incorporates recycled materials, so neither has a clear eco-advantage.

Quartz vs. Laminate

  • Laminate countertops with wood or paper cores have large impacts from adhesives and manufacturing. Quartz likely has a lower footprint.
  • Laminate stains easily and needs frequent replacement versus durable quartz.

Quartz vs. Wood

  • Sustainably harvested wood like bamboo can be a “greener” choice than quartz manufacturing.
  • However, wood requires much more maintenance over time to retain its appearance. Quartz is more scratch and stain resistant.
  • For this reason, quartz often has a longer lifespan and retains appearance better than wood counters.

Tips for Choosing an Eco-Friendly Quartz Countertop

For homeowners who decide quartz is their preferred material, there are ways to optimize the eco-profile:

  • Choose lighter colors – Dark quartz colors require more pigment made from non-renewable sources. Lighter tones use less pigment.
  • Select designs with recycled content – Many brands now offer high-recycled options with glass, mirror, porcelain and quartz pieces.
  • Buy from eco-conscious manufacturers – Certain brands like Caesarstone and Cambria prioritize sustainability in their processes.
  • Look for green certifications – GREENGUARD, NSF, and UL ECOLOGO verify low VOC emissions and eco-standards.
  • Purchase locally if possible – Check for regional quartz manufacturers to reduce transportation miles.
  • Install properly – Hire an experienced installer and use recommended techniques to prevent any cracks or damage.
  • Consider thinner quartz – New thinner options like ​​1⁄2 inch slabs use less material while performing the same.
  • Maintain for longevity – Follow manufacturer guidelines to keep quartz pristine and avoid the need for replacement. Proper care yields a long service life.

Are Quartz Countertops Ultimately Eco-Friendly?

There is no definitive “yes” or “no” answer when evaluating the eco-friendliness of engineered quartz countertops. Quartz has some advantages over natural stone and other materials when accounting for durability, maintenance, and product lifespan. But manufacturing quartz does entail environmental impacts from energy use, emissions, and sourcing of resin binders.

For homeowners prioritizing green building, locally-sourced options like concrete, recycled glass, or bamboo offer lower carbon alternatives. Yet quartz remains popular for its appearance, performance, and relatively good eco-profile compared to many mainstream countertop choices. Consumers can reduce quartz’s footprint by choosing recycled-content options from eco-driven brands.

With rising eco-consciousness among consumers and manufacturers alike, innovations in quartz countertop production will likely continue improving sustainability. Greener technology, recycled materials, cleaner energy sources, and conservation of resources can further enhance quartz as an attractive, durable, and eco-friendly surface for modern homes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eco-Friendly Quartz Countertops

Is quartz more eco-friendly than granite?

Quartz and granite have relatively similar eco-profiles, as both contain naturally abundant quartz crystals and have impacts from mining and manufacturing. Granite requires more frequent sealing and maintenance which gives quartz a slight edge. But overall they are comparable in terms of sustainability.

What is the most eco-friendly kitchen countertop material?

For lowest carbon footprint, locally-sourced pre-consumer recycled glass and concrete, reclaimed wood, and bamboo countertops tend to be among the most eco-friendly options. They minimize manufacturing impacts but may require more maintenance over time. No material is perfect from every green perspective.

Is recycled quartz countertop better for the environment?

Yes, recycled quartz that incorporates a high percentage of pre-consumer recycled content like glass, porcelain, mirror, and waste quartz chips is a greener choice. Recycled quartz has diverted waste from landfills and required less virgin mining of raw materials during manufacturing.

Do quartz countertops off-gas VOCs?

Quartz should not off-gas VOCs if manufactured properly, as the resins fully cure during production. Reputable brands test emissions to ensure indoor air quality. Quartz does not require any periodic sealing treatments with VOC-containing stone sealants either.

How long do quartz countertops last compared to other materials?

With proper installation and maintenance, quartz counters are expected to last 15-20 years or more before needing replacement. Quartz lasts longer than marble (5-10 years), granite (10-15 years), laminate (10-15 years), concrete (10-15 years), and wood (5-10 years). The long lifespan offsets much of quartz’s environmental footprint.

Can you recycle quartz countertops after use?

It is currently difficult to recycle used quartz countertops, as the resins make them less suitable for breaking down and reforming new engineered stone slabs. However, some companies are working on developing effective quartz recycling processes to make it a more renewable and circular material in the future.


While no countertop offers a perfect zero-waste solution, quartz remains a popular choice that balances visual appeal, durability, and reasonable eco-sustainability. Consumers are encouraged to choose quartz products made with recycled materials, manufactured using cleaner processes, and locally sourced when feasible. With growing eco-innovation in engineered stone manufacturing, quartz countertops are likely to become an even greener option in future years.