International Science Index


Life Cycle Datasets for the Ornamental Stone Sector


The environmental impact related to ornamental stones (such as marbles and granites) is largely debated. Starting from the industrial revolution, continuous improvements of machineries led to a higher exploitation of this natural resource and to a more international interaction between markets. As a consequence, the environmental impact of the extraction and processing of stones has increased. Nevertheless, if compared with other building materials, ornamental stones are generally more durable, natural, and recyclable. From the scientific point of view, studies on stone life cycle sustainability have been carried out, but these are often partial or not very significant because of the high percentage of approximations and assumptions in calculations. This is due to the lack, in life cycle databases (e.g. Ecoinvent, Thinkstep, and ELCD), of datasets about the specific technologies employed in the stone production chain. For example, databases do not contain information about diamond wires, chains or explosives, materials commonly used in quarries and transformation plants. The project presented in this paper aims to populate the life cycle databases with specific data of specific stone processes. To this goal, the methodology follows the standardized approach of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), according to the requirements of UNI 14040-14044 and to the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook guidelines of the European Commission. The study analyses the processes of the entire production chain (from-cradle-to-gate system boundaries), including the extraction of benches, the cutting of blocks into slabs/tiles and the surface finishing. Primary data have been collected in Italian quarries and transformation plants which use technologies representative of the current state-of-the-art. Since the technologies vary according to the hardness of the stone, the case studies comprehend both soft stones (marbles) and hard stones (gneiss). In particular, data about energy, materials and emissions were collected in marble basins of Carrara and in Beola and Serizzo basins located in the province of Verbano Cusio Ossola. Data were then elaborated through an appropriate software to build a life cycle model. The model was realized setting free parameters that allow an easy adaptation to specific productions. Through this model, the study aims to boost the direct participation of stone companies and encourage the use of LCA tool to assess and improve the stone sector environmental sustainability. At the same time, the realization of accurate Life Cycle Inventory data aims at making available, to researchers and stone experts, ILCD compliant datasets of the most significant processes and technologies related to the ornamental stone sector.

[1] European Union, “Regulation (EU) no. 305/2011 of the European parliament and of the council of 9 March 2011 laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC”, Official Journal of the European Union, L88/5, 4.4.2011.
[2] M. F. Ashby, “Materials Selection in Mechanical Design”, 5th ed., Butterworth-Heinemann Ed., 2016, pp. 90-98.
[3] R. Prikryl, “How reliable are rock mechanical parameters for the estimation of durability of natural stone”, EUROCK 2015 and 64th Geomechanics Colloquium, Salzburg (Austria), 7-10 October 2015.
[4] A. Savazzini dos Reis, V. P. Della-Sagrillo, F. R. Valenzuela-Diaz, “Analysis of Dimension Stone Waste Addition to the Clayey Mass Used in Roof Tile Production”, Materials Research, no. 18, pp. 63-69, 2015.
[5] E. K. Shirazi, “Reusing of stone waste in various industrial activities”, Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on Environmental Science and Development IPCBEE, vol.4, pp. 217-219, Singapore, 2011.
[6] European Commission, “Closing the loop: Commission adopts ambitious new Circular Economy Package to boost competitiveness, create jobs and generate sustainable growth”, Brussels, 2 December 2015.
[7] ISO 14040:2006 (EN) Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Principles and framework.
[8] ISO 14044:2006 (EN) Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Requirements and guidelines.
[9] European Commission - Joint Research Centre, International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook: General guide for Life Cycle Assessment - Detailed guidance. 1st Edition 2010.
[10] M. Traverso, G. Rizzo, M. Finkbeiner M., “Environmental performance of building materials: life cycle assessment of a typical Sicilian marble”, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, no. 15, pp. 104–114, 2010.
[11] A. Gazi, G. Skevis, M. A. Founti, “Energy efficiency and environmental assessment of a typical marble quarry and processing plant”, Journal of cleaner production, no. 32, 2012.
[12] J. Catarino, João Henriques & Anabela Maia, “Eco-efficiency in Portuguese companies of marble sector”, International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 35-46, 2016.
[13] Natural Stone Council, “Granite dimensional stone quarrying and processing: a Life-Cycle Inventory”, Report, August 2008.
[14] M. C. Borlini Gadioli, N. Fernandez Castro, A. Andrade Pazeto, C. E. Ribeiro Wandermurem, P. Fernandes de Almeida, D. Pimentel Tavares, “Life-Cycle Inventory of dimension stones, Brazil”, Global Stone Congress 2012, Borba, Portugal, 2012.
[15] P. Primavori, “Pianeta Pietra”, Giorgio Zusi Ed., 1999, Verona.
[16] A. Rana, P. Kalla, H. K. Verma, J. K. Mohnot, “Recycling of dimensional stone waste in concrete: A review”, Journal of cleaner production, no. 135, pp. 312-331, 2016.
[17] O. Sivrikaya, K. Kiyildi, Z. Karaca, “Recycling waste from natural stone processing plants to stabilise clayey soil”, Environmental Earth Sciences, no. 71, pp. 4397–4407, 2014.
[18] L. Zichella, A. Tori, R. Bellopede, P. Marini, Natural stone muds as secondary raw materials: towards a new sustainable recovery process, EGU General Assembly 2016, pp. 779-784, Wien (Austria), 17-22 April 2016.