Materials & Surfaces

THINk ZERO – looking forward to carbon-neutral ceramic surfaces

Why does sustainability involve high R&D investments and how a brand may help to change a whole sector mindset?

Lea Ceramiche explains how the brand and all its owning Group are transitioning to more and more sustainable manufacturing, revolutionizing the whole building sector and involving all the stakeholders in the process. THINk Zero plan was launched in September 2022, but Panariagroup – to which Lea Ceramiche belongs – has been on the path towards a greener planet since 2004.

Lea Ceramiche and Panariagroup launched the THINk ZERO program in September 2022. You can proudly say that you are the first Carbon Neutral company in the ceramic surfaces sector in Italy. What were the necessary steps to achieve neutrality?

Lea Ceramiche:

“Sustainability has always been a strategic asset for Panariagroup and, of course, for Lea Ceramiche. In 2004 the first to develop a technology apt to reduce the thickness of tiles up to millimeters, dramatically cutting the raw materials, water and energy consumption during the manufacturing process. From that moment on we focused on developing our technology in this area, so as to create ultra sustainable products that have a lessened impact on the environment.

1. THINk ZERO by Lea Ceramiche _ ceramic surfaces
THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

We started our Annual Sustainability Report in 2017, which was a fundamental tool to set our goals, measure our success in maintaining them, and engage in giving ourselves new targets year after year keeping track of the performances.

Finally, in 2022 we resolved to launch the THINk ZERO program, an ambitious project aimed to compensate for the CO2 emissions during the entire life cycle of the product and not only during the manufacturing phase. Slimtech tiles today are carbon neutral because first we reduced them to the maximum. Then we compensated for them by considering not only the production cycle but the entire life cycle.”

Transitioning to sustainable production is expensive and time consuming. What are the positive aspects of this choice for a brand like Lea Ceramiche?

Lea Ceramiche:

“The world economy is changing, consequently, industry and market expectations are evolving. Sustainable manufacturing is the present, not the future. The building sector is globally responsible for about 36% of CO2 emissions.

THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

This implies all stakeholders – planners, builders, designers – to take responsibility. We need to raise supply chain awareness to revolutionize the system starting from those directly working in the sector.

New laws and policies are supporting the process: the material choice is essential as an access key for subsidized loans in public projects and in large contracts. However, it is not possible to develop an increasingly eco-sustainable building sector just by limiting the choice to low-impact surfaces: a whole circular economy process must be set in. 

To participate in this transition in a more efficient way, our R&D experts developed a dry patented installation system for Slimtech ultra-thin tiles and slabs.

THINk ZERO by Lea Ceramiche _ ceramic surfaces
THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

How does it work?

  • A gripping laying mat is placed on the surface
  • The tiles are installed by just grouting them on the surface
  • No glues or adhesives are used
  • Once the tiles or the surface are not needed anymore or need to be changed, they are easily removed without demolition and may be used on other surfaces 

It’s the perfect solution for a temporary architecture, an ephemeral environment or the renovation of a space, because the thinness of the slab grants a non demolishing intervention.”

You state that your project attracts the attention of all players in the market: designers, end users and retailers. How do you diffuse the THINk ZERO program?

Lea Ceramiche:

“An important communication plan aimed at all the stakeholders was launched last year. The first presentation took place on the occasion of the XII edition of the Bergamo Landscape Festival, which was held in September. Lea Ceramiche, together with other Panariagroup brands, was a main sponsor.

3. THINk ZERO by Lea Ceramiche _ ceramic surfaces
THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

The large ultra-thin slabs were the protagonists of a fascinating installation at the Angelo Mai Civic Library in Piazza Vecchia and an opportunity to talk about the THINk ZERO project to journalists, architects and visitors. The other key appointment for Lea Ceramiche was Cersaie, one of the most important events dedicated to surfaces in the world, during which we presented Pigmenti, a collection of Slimtech ultra-thin slabs designed by Ferruccio Laviani.

THINk ZERO is also the protagonist of an important digital and social campaign we have been running on various markets since this summer. Finally, the PR and press office work was decisive in communicating with the professionals and end users and delving into the details of the project. The more important professional magazines gave wide visibility to the THINk ZERO program.”

THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

Thinking about the future, does Slimtech Easy open up to an alternative way of using ceramic surfaces?

Lea Ceramiche:

“Thanks to this solution it is possible to renovate spaces with a high quality result, without the need for invasive renovation work, reducing by an average of 30% intervention times and execution costs. With the thicknesses of 5.5 and 6 mm a new porcelain stoneware floor can be obtained without burdening the existing structure and maintaining a high degree of sustainability.

Overlapping installation allows the recovery of the tiles in case it is necessary to reuse them elsewhere, reducing to maximum demolition debris. Moreover, if compared to traditional tiles, Slimtech Plus slabs are produced with lower consumption of water and raw materials as well as lower CO2 emissions.”

THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

Which Lea Ceramiche collections best represent the production linked to the THINk ZERO project?

Lea Ceramiche:

“Thanks to the constant and lively dialogue with the world of design, Lea Ceramiche is by its very nature highly receptive, distinguishing itself through constant research in both aesthetic and technological terms.

The innovation and distinctiveness of Lea Ceramiche have also been interpreted by important names in Italian and international design, which over the years have taken up the challenge launched by the brand, pushing their work beyond the visual language, experimenting with the large Slimtech slabs, the solution that completes the Lea Ceramiche surface project, giving birth to collections that combine aesthetics, style, and unparalleled technical performance.

THINk ZERO program by Lea Ceramiche / Panariagroup

Among distinguished names, Patrick Norguet, Diego Grandi, Philippe Nigro, Fabio Novembre and Ferruccio Laviani have been able to combine creativity, innovation, and refinement.”


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