- Publication date
- Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
LIFE+ DIGITALIFE brings eco-friendly ceramic tiles to market while helping create jobs and supporting the EU’s recently adopted Circular Economy Action Plan.
Most ceramic tiles are coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2) - a substance which helps eliminate bacteria and even removes odours from the air. These tiles are vital for hospitals where hygiene and sanitation are of paramount importance.
However, producing such tiles requires large quantities of water and energy. To get around this, LIFE+ DIGITALIFE turned to digital printing technology. Over four years, the team developed special water-based inks for printing ceramic tiles, built an industrial-scale pilot plant to test the digital printing process, and measured the resulting environmental impact.
Less waste, better health
This approach has reduced TiO2 consumption significantly while eliminating almost all waste. In addition, the pilot plant located near Bologna, Italy, cut energy consumption by almost half, while water consumption was down by nearly 100%. LIFE+ DIGITALIFE’s achievements are in line with the EU’s recent Circular Economy Action Plan, which is part of the European Green Deal. The plan focuses on sustainable resource use and waste reduction.
As a result of this success, the project’s lead partner subsequently invested more than seven million euros in a full-scale industrial plant to bring the so-called Active and Active 2.0 ceramic tiles to market, creating several jobs in the process.
“Both products are important for hospitals and elderly care homes due to their antibacterial properties,” confirms Valentino Capucci from lead partner Iris Ceramica Group. "This is especially true with today’s COVID-19 pandemic," he adds.
Staff in the factory are currently working hard to produce ceramic tiles for several hospitals across Italy. "Even in this time of crisis with numerous companies closing, our staff continues to work", confirms Valentino.
This work is going some way towards helping Italy recover from the COVID-19 crisis. It also supports the EU’s Economic Recovery plan, which has climate action and healthcare among its priorities.
LIFE + DIGITALIFE project was among the 15 finalists of the LIFE Awards 2019 promoted by the European Commission. Watch the project teaser here: