Driven by a passion for innovative sustainability, KOHLER WasteLAB® takes landfill-bound materials left over from the manufacturing process and converts them into functional products of style and beauty.
At the KOHLER WasteLAB, we are looking for ways to see the world differently and create a better planet. Here, we look to nature as a model for sustainable processes—within nature’s cycles of growth and decay, waste simply doesn’t exist. Our work in the WasteLAB applies the systems we find in nature to our manufacturing process.
Through this exploration, we’re able to take a step toward building a sustainable circular economy, one in which we reuse, rethink, and repurpose our waste streams to create beautiful, thoughtful products. From 2019 through 2021, sales of KOHLER WasteLAB tile have diverted more than 54,000 pounds of waste from landfills, exemplifying Kohler's commitment to achieving net-zero waste to landfill by 2035.
A 2019 recipient of a Wisconsin Innovation Award, the WasteLAB is just one of several success stories to come out of Kohler’s innovation startup Innovation for Good®. As we look to the future, we’re exploring new methods, new waste streams, and the potential for so much more. We’ve barely begun to imagine what’s possible.
From pottery wastewater running down a drain to a stunning canvas of unlimited creative expression, explore the journey and hand-crafted artistry of WasteLAB products.
Kohler associates are continually expanding the limits of what’s possible with design. These efforts were recently recognized by Fast Company for their 2022 Innovation by Design Awards, where Kohler was recognized across six categories, including an honorable mention in the Design Company of the Year category.
Another validation of the important work the WasteLAB is doing, the Abstra Collection received Business Intelligence Group’s 2022 Sustainability Product of the Year Award.
Environment + Energy Leader recognizes the Abstra Collection as a Top Product of the Year thanks to the KOHLER WasteLAB® team’s innovative design and development work to transform manufacturing waste into environmentally friendly, beautiful tiles.
A tangible result of believing in better, the Abstra Collection by KOHLER WasteLAB® has been named a World Changing Idea finalist in the Art & Design category by Fast Company.
We’re constantly looking into new manufacturing waste streams and new ways of turning them into products of beauty and sophistication. Explore our first two tile collections.
Made from nearly 100% recycled waste materials, the Abstra Collection features three-dimensional reliefs of intersecting lines that create a dynamic interplay of light and shadow. With endless combinations of color, size, and surface patterns, every installation becomes a unique expression of personal style. The Abstra Collection is also available in a matching set of unadorned field tiles with the same undulating surface detail.
Receiving an honorable mention from Fast Company for World Changing Ideas, Crackle Collection tiles are handcraftedby WasteLAB artisans and decorated with a dimensional visual effect achieved with a unique glaze designed to pool and break over the textured surface during firing.
These are some of the materials that we transform from landfill-bound waste into objects of beauty and elegance.
Dry cull is a byproduct of the vitreous china process. We put as much dry cull back into production as possible, but a percentage is not suitable for our vitreous china products. This dry clay material is leveraged for Crackle tile bodies.
During melting for the production of KOHLER® enameled cast iron, the scrap material is exposed to high temperatures which drive impurities out of the molten iron. These impurities are removed. In the WasteLAB we use slag as a colorant in some of our tile finishes.
During the ceramic glazing process, waste glaze is collected from the overspray of toilets and sinks in our pottery operations. This is a major ingredient in our tile glaze surfaces.
During the enameling process, some waste enamel is generated that can’t be reintroduced into the process as pure enamel. So instead, we’re using it as a material in our glazes and experimenting to find new color effects.
Wastewater generated during the production of Kohler’s vitreous china products like sinks, toilets, and urinals is leveraged for Abstra Collection tile bodies. Consisting primarily of pottery waste clay and glaze, this waste stream is dewatered and processed into filter cake.