Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sustainable since 1943- Richlite paper composite surfaces

Countertop surface materials come in all makes, colors and qualities but only Richlite® stands out for its unique paper content, natural look and warm appeal. It's produced out of environmentally sustainable materials unlike stone countertops quarried out of permanent holes in the ground. They are committed to building products that not only look good and last for years in the home or office but, also, can be manufactured with as little impact on the environment as possible. Established in 1943, Rainier Richlite® Company, based in Tacoma, Washington, first produced natural fiber composites for aerospace and industrial markets in the late 1950s.

Richlite® is made primarily of paper purchased from FSC-Certified sources and/or recycled paper. The paper is treated with resin then pressed and baked to create solid sheets.

Richlite® is classified green in large part because the predominate raw material is derived from renewable or recycled resources. Managed and sustainable forests, habitat conservation efforts, along with prudent manufacturing practices are just some of the environmental mandates that go into Richlite countertop products.

They use the most environmentally benign production methods and materials available. During the saturation and drying process, over 99% of the volatile organic compounds are incinerated. The heat from that incineration is used for the drying process to minimize thermal pollution. There is no hazardous waste generated in the process. Richlite® does not off-gas because the compounds inside it chemically cross-link during the manufacturing process and are locked into the solid surface creating a homogenous material.

Currently Richlite® offers two products that contain recycled content; r50 contains 50% old corrugated cardboard (post-consumer waste) while r100 is made with 100% recycled paper (post-consumer waste) and is certified by FSC.

Richlite is the first company to offer hemp-based countertops, a visually unique surface alternative that’s produced from an exceptionally sustainable resource. Richlite®’s hemp counters are made with fast-growing abaca fibers purchased from the Philippines and Ecuador. Abaca is a type of plant noted for its fibers used in weaving. The fibers, commonly referred to as hemp, have been used in textiles for more than 6,000 years. Few textiles are as strong or as long lasting as hemp. Today more than 25,000 products, including monetary currency and now countertops are made with the fibers.

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