• What: Chunks of granite, marble and soapstone that otherwise would go to waste are repurposed to make inexpensive and green backsplashes for kitchens, paving stones and other uses. The relatively flat slabs of waste granite are cut vertically into strips which, when decoratively arranged, make for a unique feature for a home or business. The company crushes whatever is left into aggregate, or tiny bits of stone used for infill.
• Company: Rom-Eco Solutions, founded in 2010, calls its product ViroStone
• Location: The company’s operations are based out of the Hamill Road/Hixson Pike area.
• How it’s green: More than 25 percent of all granite is destined for a landfill. This is because when the rock is cut to fit a sink in a counter application, or is overcut, the individual pieces no longer are useful to the builder. Some contractors pay as much as $1,000 per month to have the waste granite hauled to the landfill, according to Rom-Eco’s Terri Hudson, creative director. Larger applications of the repurposed stone are worth eight to nine LEED points, and also count toward Better Built certification.
• Why do it this way?: At present, this is the only decorative repurposing of the otherwise-wasted granite available to contractors and consumers, according to the company.
• What’s the cost?: Backsplash installations cost $10 to $15 per square foot, compared to regular tile backsplashes that cost $20 per square foot. Pavers, a recent addition to the company’s portfolio, cost $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot.
• Advice for others: With 160 million tons of nonhazardous waste in construction materials, you’ve got to keep an open mind about what materials may be reused.
• Plans for expansion: Currently selling 10,000 pounds of stone per month, the company soon will expand the supply four-fold when marketing gets up and running and the company can spur demand.
Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...