By Giacomo Losio – co-founder of Taller delle terre
Taller delle terre (TdT) is a non profit organization that aims to revolutionize the industry of ceramic setting up circular economy production processes.
The problem TdT wants to face is connected with the idea of linear systems which are no longer sustainable for our finite planet seeing they are designed on the endless processes of extraction, production, distribution, consume and disposal (the Story of Stuff, 2007).
In fact, looking at the interior design sector, both ceramic and stone production chains are responsible for such negative externalities in terms of natural resources exploitation, amount of waste sent to landfill, related environmental impacts and costs for disposal.
According to Confindustria Ceramica, in Italy the ceramic market is worth 5,4 billion euro per year (2018) and about 4,572 operating quarries consumed more than 4,6 million cubic meters of soil (Legambiente, Rapporto Cave 2017).
At the same time also the world stone industry is responsible for sending to landfill a big percentage of the extracted material, between 20 and 30, with an estimated operating cost about of approx. 30 euro per tonne (Knowledgshare, 2016).
These two linear production chains have also considerable negative effects on the environment during all the production and consumption phases (transport, packaging and final disposal): high levels of energy and water consumption; waste production and CO2 emissions (Legambiente, Rapporto Cave 2016).
As underlined by United Nation SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), territories need to implement sustainability within 2030: the waste of resources and money can be contained only through innovative solutions that can generate positive effects in terms of environmental, social and economic development.
Considering that in 2018, the 9% from the Italian ceramic industry revenues has been invested in new sustainable productions and green technologies, TdT developed a solution that meets these needs.
TdT answers to specific SDGs (SDG8, SDG9; SDG12) developing eco-friendly materials suitable for the whole ceramic sector. The process of mixing natural materials with by- products collected from firms working building materials, gave birth to ‘MAT-TER’: a material (MAT) that comes from the earth (TER) and at the end of its lifetime goes back to the earth without harnessing our environment.
This sustainable ‘body clay’ is made in-house, by mixing different quantities of natural clay and stone by-products collected locally. It can be used in many fields: form arts and crafts (for examples tableware and sculptures), to the industrial applications (interior and external coverings).
The solution, with the potential to transform linear production processes into local and circular value chains, can be scaled up through a network of stakeholders: industrial designers, producers, manufactories, retailers and players managing the entire process.
In October 2018, the architect Martina Geroni opened an artistic and artisanal lab in Lodi, producing and selling tableware made at the wheel. In order to make the production process sustainable, she developed a circular economy project with the urban planner Giacomo Losio. Together they gave birth to Taller delle Terre.
TdT tested and mixed lots of various materials in different conditions, till the creation of MAT-TER, the new ‘circular’ ceramic material, thought to be worked and transformed in useful or artistic objects, from tiles to tableware, from decorations to sculptures.
After developing some performing prototypes, the first tableware collection has been named ‘CASCARA’ (like the fruit’s peel) in honour of the process that makes new goods, valuing natural scraps of the drupe fruit.
During 2019, TdT project gained several acknowledgements and awards.
After being selected among the ten Italian finalists of ‘Bionike Award’ on female entrepreneurship in April, a first grant has been given by ‘Fondazione Alamo’, which supported TdtT, making possible an increasing of the production and the continuation of research and development experiments.
In June at ‘La Scala di Milano’ theatre, ‘Milano-Monza-Lodi Chamber of Commerce’ awarded TdT for ‘the best enterprise video’.
A special prize at ‘Welfare che impresa’ national competition has been given to Taller delle terre in July, which led to the incubation at ‘PoliHub Innovation Distric and Startup acelerator’ in Milan (since November) and to a reward from Fondazione Snam.
After becoming a non profit organization at the beginning of 2020, Taller delle terre is nowadays looking for funds to scale up the solution.