3 ways of upcycling trash into sustainable terrazzo

in sustainable design

Terrazzo is a finish that has been around for a very long time, and it’s inherently sustainable.
In fact, it has been originally invented as a way to reuse marble & stone offcuts.
Nowadays, terrazzo is still a great way to give materials a new life. And the fact that it has come back in style has multiplied the options available.
So today we’re looking at 3 modern ways of making a sustainable terrazzo finish.
And since terrazzo is often seen as very demanding and busy, the Sustainable Moodboard below follows a soothing neutral theme.

Scroll to the end of this article to know more about Sustainable Moodboards.

Moodboard showing a variety of sustainable furniture & accessories with a terrazzo finish & a neutral colour.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credits (from top left): Boutures d'Objets (opened in a new window/tab), Coverings Etc (opened in a new window/tab), K-Studio (opened in a new window/tab), Slash Objects (opened in a new window/tab), Enrico Marone Cinzano (opened in a new window/tab), DesignByThem (opened in a new window/tab). Moodboard by DforDesign

Leftover marble chips

The original way of making terrazzo is still in use these days.
For instance, Coverings Etc (opened in a new window/tab) mixes stone leftovers coming from closed quarries with a cement & water paste. The resulting Eco-Terr slabs & tiles (opened in a new window/tab) can be used either as wall/floor finish or as a surfacing material.

Bathroom vanity with back wall covered with sustainable terrazzo tiles in grey.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Coverings Etc (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

Upcycled plastic

Our world is literally overflowing with plastic waste.
Even though plastic is often pointed at as the problem, the real issue lies in how plastic is used.
Plastic is a pretty durable material, so it’s a clear contradiction to use it for single-use applications like bottles and food packaging. A contradiction that was predictably going to generate tons of plastic trash over time – which is exactly where we are now.

The good news is that plastic can be given a second life. Because – as the circular economy model explains – all waste can become a resource.
This re-evaluation of plastic is also promoted by the Guiltless Plastic Initiative, where design gallerist Rossana Orlandi challenges designers to make plastic guiltless and transform it into beautiful and useful objects.

As a result, plastic is now used in many design applications – and terrazzo is one of them. Plastic terrazzo can be used alone or paired with other materials to add an interesting contemporary touch.

For instance, Boutures d'Objets (opened in a new window/tab) has mixed two types of plastic terrazzo into its Solarium table lamp (opened in a new window/tab).
DesignByThem (opened in a new window/tab) has created its Confetti Lounge sofa (opened in a new window/tab) adding plastic terrazzo as an accent in the legs.
And Enrico Marone Cinzano (opened in a new window/tab) has paired a plastic terrazzo base with a solid wood top in his Tronco coffee table (opened in a new window/tab).

Click on each product name to know more about it.

Sculptural lamp in black and grey made entirely out of recycled plastic.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Boutures d'Objets (opened in a new window/tab)
Contemporary living room with sofa and coffee table with legs made of recycled plastic terrazzo.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: DesignByThem (opened in a new window/tab)
Black coffee table with recycled plastic base and solid wood top.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Enrico Marone Cinzano (opened in a new window/tab)

Post-consumer rubber

One common way of recycling rubber tires is chopping them into small pieces and turning them into sheets, that are often used as flooring in gyms.
Despite not sounding very inspiring at first – these rubber sheets have a beautiful speckled pattern that inspired Slash Objects (opened in a new window/tab) to find them a different use.

The result is a collection of homeware – from coasters & placemats to the Rubber Cyl side table (opened in a new window/tab) – that elevates the look of rubber terrazzo sheets by pairing them with marble, brass and concrete.

Minimal shot displaying a light grey side table made of recycled rubber.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Slash Objects (opened in a new window/tab)

These are just 3 examples to show how waste can be given a new life in the form of a beautiful terrazzo finish.
You can find even more sustainable terrazzo options by searching for “terrazzo” on SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab).

Introducing Sustainable Moodboards

As you might already know, SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab) is a sustainable interior design resource I curate. There, you'll find a selection of interior products reflecting the broad meaning of sustainability in design.

The moodboard at the beginning of this article is an example of Sustainable Moodboards: a new exclusive series of sustainable design inspirations dedicated to the members of SforSustainable's monthly newsletter.
Each Sustainable Moodboard recreates a theme (like Neutral Terrazzo) or a design concept (like Earthy Outdoor) – all with sustainable products from SforSustainable!

If you’d like to receive the coming issues of Sustainable Moodboards + more sustainable design inspiration, you’re welcome to join SforSustainable’s (free) newsletter (opened in a new window/tab)!

Graphic introducing Sustainable Moodboards.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>

Share this post


Don't be shy, let me know what you think!


Join 100+ biophilic and sustainable design enthusiasts on the monthly newsletter.
I'll never share your email with third parties and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Sustainable Product Picks