Upcycling of marble: the new life of processing waste

Upcycling and environmental preservation continue to be key concepts in 2023, as well as throughout the past decade. In particular, marble upcycling (where “upcycling” means reuse, creative recycling) is a very important trend, especially in this period when we all pay greater attention to respecting and preserving the health of our planet.

Marble processing, in fact, generates a large amount of waste, also known as “offcuts,” which vary in type and size. These offcuts originate from breakages that occur during processing, which are quite common due to the nature of the material, or from leftover pieces after working on or extracting a marble piece.

what to do with marble processing waste

To address this dilemma, many artists have attempted to provide a creative answer, which often translates into the creation of unusual objects using marble scraps: simple, affordable, and sustainable furnishings. These objects certainly have a “raw” appearance but are incredibly fascinating and imaginative. Even marble dust itself is creatively reused in various sectors, including:

  • Paper production, where it serves as filler and pigment for patination, which is essential in the production process.
  • Paints and adhesive coatings, where it acts as the main mineral filler because its fineness and granulometric distribution allow for complete coverage of the coatings.
  • Plastics, where it is used as a mineral modifier, improving processes and mechanical properties related to the plastic world.
  • Construction, as an ideal raw material for the production of asphalt, ceramics, glass, concrete, detergents, tiles, and bricks.
  • Environmental applications, from flue gas desulfurization to drinking water treatment, etc.
  • Agriculture, where it is used as an additive in pesticide and animal feed production.
  • Food and pharmaceutical products, where it serves as a suitable carrier for various mixtures, acting as a white pigment and technical aid.

Noteworthy is the Marble Beaches project, recently launched with the aim of addressing the erosion problem on the Tuscan coast through the use of waste from marble processing extracted from the Apuan Alps. In other words, the project’s goal is to shift from the concept of by-products as a problem to the concept of by-products as potential, valorizing secondary extraction materials and transforming them into high-quality products that offer environmental and economic advantages. Among the planned actions are the production of materials with the creation of new local market chains, the production of sands and pebbles for beaches with a high level of sustainability, not only due to the material itself, which is pure calcium carbonate, but also because previously considered waste material is being recovered.

design objects created with marble processing waste

The Ocean Travertine Stone collection by Clément Brazille is a perfect example of marble upcycling, involving the reuse of material scraps, specifically the cores of oceanic travertine drilling, to create a line of furniture that includes coffee tables, side tables, desks, and bookcases.
The young brand Pietretrovanti reuses asymmetrical or unusable fragments of marble from its territory, Val d’Ossola, to create design objects and applied art pieces.
The Swedish Studio EO reuses fragments of marble waste, combining them with blown glass to create the so-called Drill Vases, which are vases made from marble pieces that already had holes.
CTRLZAK produces a series of irregularly shaped coffee tables for JPC Universe, resembling asteroids, using glossy black marbles.
Moreno Ratti, on the other hand, creates a 3D puzzle for Stonethica using different marble tiles that are assembled and processed.

Photo credits: Baptiste Coulon – clementbrazille.com

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