Cosentino - Sustainability Leaders

Updated: Oct 16

I recently sat down with Natasha Stewart, the GM of Cosentino Calgary, a global, family-owner company focused on distribution of innovative and sustainable surfaces for the world of Architecture and Design. After traveling to Spain with Cosentino I was hugely impressed with their environmental and sustainable business practices. Some of our conversation was captured here….


Brenda

I wanted to start with learning more about the Constantino family story because I know they've had a long history in this industry. And have been leaders in the environmental side of it.


Natasha

The current president/owner is Paco Santino, purchased the company from his father quite a while ago. The company actually got their foothold in the industry as a marble quarry.


Brenda

And when did they start?


Natasha

Late seventies in around 1978 I believe. They were focused on the natural stone, especially marble. As the company grew Paco said there's got to be something more to surfaces and that's when he started formulating different materials. He actually had one material that he put out into the market that actually didn't work.


So it's a true story of trying something innovative that doesn't always work, but you try, try again. And that's really what he focused on and it's out of the research and development of the initial product that he had made Silestone. Silestone is one of the true innovators in our market when it comes to the surfaces, so much so, we're actually moving away from the term of quartz surfaces and going towards the term mineral surface due to our initiatives behind sustainability.


AMR Designed Kitchen with Silesone Counters

Not only was Paco at the helm of the company since the eighties, but now also it's a whole family run business. And when we say that it truly is - his daughter, Paloma, is going to be the president out of Europe. We have Eduardo Costantino, who is the North American CEO based out of Miami. Many other members of the family are involved as well and they pride themselves on that. We are a $1B company around the world but when I look at even my position as a general manager here in Alberta, I have a direct line to Eduardo in Miami.


We are still very much the company that communicates with one another and has those conversations that are important in growing the company. Our overall vision and mission and sustainability has been priority number one for the Constantino family. The past couple of years have been really, really exciting for us. We came up with what we called HybridQ technology. 100% of the sales on colors manufactured by Constantino are made with our HybridQ formalization, a milestone technology. It is revolutionizing the whole industry and it's the first sustainable technology of its kind within the actual market. We invested over 12000 hours of research and development into it and it is exciting to be able to put a material into the market that has a decreased carbon footprint.


Solar Field for Cosentino in Almeria, Spain

Last year we also launched our very first line of carbon neutral material as part of our Summit Day series. It's a series of colors that are inspired by the Mediterranean and the focus on sustainability is key from every level of the company. As an example, when we look at their location, they're located out of Almeria, Spain, and the staff there are shuttled to and from work to decrease the amount of time they spend in their own vehicles. We have waste management facilities that are under works right now to ensure that our material is made with 99% recycled water and 100% renewable energy with the 38,000 solar panels. We do have different initiatives as well in that we want to use completely 100% recycled water. So there's that one last 1% that we're looking at by reusing the grey water from the surrounding communities.


Brenda

So wouldn't just be the facility's water, it would be the surrounding municipalities, et cetera as well?


Natasha

Yeah, Exactly. It's a huge focus because we're based out of Spain in Almeria, and being in Canada, we bring that material over the ocean so how do we give back? Anything we can do,at the heart of what we do, to ensure sustainability is to decrease our carbon footprint, it's significant to us. And that not only shows in actual the steps that we are taking in regards to just different certifications in our plant, but it also speaks to the minerals that we use. And I kind of go back to that conversation about the minerals in manufactured quartz.


Brenda

Sorry, can I interrupt you there to even tell people what the surface is and the difference between, say, a manufactured quartz versus a real stone counter and the minerals that's used in that process - what’s involved there?


Natasha

So when the company originally started, we were a marble quarry, marble and natural stones are actually carved out from the earth from a quarry and they are then transformed into slabs that go into kitchens and different building materials. Our manufactured surface is basically where you take solid quartz from the earth and those minerals from the quarry are actually ground up. Then there's a resin that's used to be able to bind all these materials together and it formulates more of a durable material with natural stones and resin combined. You have to seal natural stone so that there's no staining and you're keeping those natural properties. What happens with manufactured stone is you're taking the natural stone and you're reformulating it, you're grinding it up, you're mixing it in with these resins so that it helps hold it together to give you some stain resistance, durability and longevity of the material.


Cosentino Marble Quarry

Brenda

So are they able to take so small pieces out of the quarry, how do they get the minerals to actually make the quartz?


Natasha

Well, so they do mine quartz, but part of that is also rolled into the sustainability of releasing quartz minerals that can then be used.


Brenda

So anything that doesn't go into that finished stone counter can be used in the manufactured quartz instead?


Natasha

Yeah, absolutely. And what is most interesting for us is that we've actually over the past couple of years, and with our HybridQ technology, reduced the quartz content in our material and we've replaced it with recycled minerals. So recycled glass and different durable minerals to formulate our current slabs. And the true reason behind that is that quartz is what we call silica. And those who actually cut quartz and cut the countertops, there is silica content in it. That silica, if breathed in and ingested, could cause health issues. So anybody who's manufacturing across the board, any quartz surface must wear PPE and proper protection is key, right? Because you want to make sure that those that are actually handling the material are staying healthy and that they're not affected by what they're doing.


Our premise is that we want to reduce that silica content in our countertops to make it healthier for those that are manufacturing it and for those who are fabricating it as they're the ones who purchase raw material. Anything we can do to ensure that rather than just training people how to work with something that could potentially be hazardous, for example, we want to take that away any risk. And so in the initiative of trying to be sustainable and using quality recycled minerals in our products, we're also wanting to keep in mind those who actually fabricate the material, who cut the material, but also those who handle the material in our factories as well.


Brenda

OK, and it is all manufactured in Almeria Spain which is a small town.


Natasha

It is, yes - that is something we definitely pride ourselves on. Almeria is a very small town in Spain and what's great is that we employ a lot of the surrounding areas and Cosentino has been there for so long that they're a staple in the community in and around the area. And when we look at our manufacturing process, that is the only plant we have, and that's where all of our material is put together, not only the Silestone, but we're also looking at Dekton, which is our ultracompact surface, which is a whole other wonderful category of materials for us that are that's carbon neutral. And with that is taking something that the Earth takes millions of years to create. We recreate that with our Dekton ultracompact surface in the matter of four to 5 hours.


Dekton Liquid Embers counter and backsplash

Brenda

So you tell us a little bit more about sustainability. You said your newest initiative is the hybrid Q What has been the evolution of getting to this point since they started.


Natasha

Like I said earlier, 1200 hours of research and development. We're fortunate that at our campus in Almeria, we have a large research and development facility where we take an immense amount of time to focus on the minerals that we're using, the quality of materials to be able to not only be sustainable but the quality of the material that we're putting into the market.


That's extremely important to us, not only from the minerals and the recycled material, but also to the reasons that I mentioned before. When it comes to Silestone, the resin is crucial. When you look at these countertops, I mean, there's a lot of variety, but we focus on that. The highest quality of resins must be used to be able to ensure that the the materials that are being purchased by an end consumer, by a fabricator, whoever's purchasing material that they're getting, the highest level of quality. The hours that it takes for us to look at our prototypes, to make sure that the material will behave in the way in which we want it to.


For example countertops often behave just like a hardwood with UV/sun damage. If you have a piece of furniture on hardwood, the UV rays coming in change the color and when you move the furniture, there's two colors. Right? Same when it comes to the countertops, especially with our light colored countertops, we want to ensure that there's no UV impact on that material. You're putting this material into a kitchen that has natural sunlight for 3 hours of the day. Our material has a significantly less likelihood of yellowing because of U.V. impact on that material. The evolution of our Hybrid material took a lot for us to figure out the actual production. And last year, we actually launched the new Hybrid series. So it's a pretty significant process.


Dekton Arcilla Red

Dekton product, specifically, is a material that will give us a lifetime in a way. There is a building in Australia that we have done and it's a phenomenal building. It was originally spec’d in a natural stone and it's a waterfall building. So from the top of this 20 story building, you've got a waterfall coming down and we clad that waterfall with Dekton because over time it will not degrade. Whereas a natural stone is like pebbles on a riverbank, so as the water washes over it, it changes the shape and it eventually gets smaller and smaller. With the Dekton it will last a lifetime. People have joked that if something were to burn down, Dekton would still be standing because let's be honest, it was heated so much already that it's impossible to burn.


Brenda

I am really impressed with everything I have seen and learned about Cosentino’s sustainability initiatives. Our company loves the product and that we can feel confident spacing a product that will last a lifetime and can be recycled!


Learn more about Silestone and Dekton here and how you can take advantage of their sustainable properties in your next project. I know you will be seeing Dekton on some custom furniture in our future projects.


And a special thank you to Natasha Steward for her time and passion in sharing her knowledge of the Cosentino products with us.


Natasha Stewart GM of Cosentino Calgary