However, the impacts of hard surfacing on people and planet can be significant, including the energy spent in sourcing the raw materials and the adverse effects of quarries and air and water pollutants emitted during the finishing operations.
For example, quarries can be located close to human habitation, leading to noise, vibration, and dust that may impact residents. Stone quarrying can also be disruptive to the balance of wildlife, plant life, and water bodies in the area. Improper methods can lead to the removal of crucial native vegetation, erosion and pollution of waterways from site run-off.
Considering the size of this industry and the amount of sourced, finished and installed hard surfacing products, it is important that the key environmental impacts of this category of products are identified and minimised.
Quarrying, fabrication and testing of hard surfacing products are more sophisticated than ever before, allowing for the establishment of best practice methods to lower the stone industry sector’s impacts. The GECA standard seeks to support and reward such efforts. Hard surfacing products that comply with this standard will have considerably lower adverse environmental, social and health impacts than its competitors.
The standard sets requirements that aim to provide a benefit by:
• minimising the impacts of mining and quarrying operations on the surrounding environment
• restricting the sourcing of petrochemical products
• limiting emissions to water and air
• encouraging the use of recycled content
• requiring efficient energy, water and waste management
• encouraging recovery, reuse, recycling and responsible disposal of materials and packaging
• preventing the use of specific hazardous materials and toxic heavy metals such as known carcinogens and mutagens
• ensuring workers and suppliers through the supply chain can expect fair pay, equal opportunity, and a safe working environment
This standard is applicable to the following categories of hard surfacing products for interior or exterior use, without any structural function, and suitable for use as horizontal or vertical surfacing:
• Natural stone;
• Agglomerated stones;
• Terrazzo tiles;
• Ceramic tiles;
• Clay tiles; and
• Glass tiles.
Other environmentally innovative hard surfaces that do not directly fit the above categories may be considered for certification provided the product fulfils the requirements of relevant sections of this standard.
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