Innovation & sustainable development

The Spanish ceramic tile sector stands out for its high degree of applied innovations, both in the production process and in its products. Indeed, Spain’s tile cluster is one of the few sectors that includes technology and research centres and universities which strive to innovate and to promote projects in the field of R&D&I throughout the whole value chain.

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Thanks to research by these bodies, the tile sector has been able to generate synergies in the development of innovations with all the tile cluster’s different stakeholders. This makes it highly competitive in international markets through innovations in areas ranging from raw materials through to the design process.

The Institute of Ceramic Technology (the ITC) is a leading reference point in innovations in the tile sector. It carries out projects in the field of R&D&I and in technology transfers to companies with a view to fostering innovation and to boosting the tile sector’s strategic position at an international level.

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Video of the production process

Big data – industry 4.0

The tile sector has implemented the 4.0 strategy, aimed at transforming traditional manufacturing systems by moving toward a new model based on traceability, digitalization, and the compilation of big data in order to ensure better control, management and supervision of production plants. Initiatives currently exist to extend this digital strategy to the purchase phase in order to optimize the promotion of tiles in showrooms and other sales points, creating a powerful data-gathering system through smart display units.

Sustainable development

The Spanish tile sector has steadily incorporated technological improvements and innovations in its production processes so that it can achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: an initiative that goes much further than just reducing its carbon footprint. The aim is also to optimize processes in other areas, for instance by reducing consumption of raw materials and optimizing water management in its processes.

Reducing the sector’s carbon footprint

For decades now, the Spanish tile sector has been applying energy efficiency measures, together with the best available technologies for reducing its carbon footprint and its CO2 emissions.

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Among the measures that it has introduced, the most important are:

  • Residual heat recovery systems
  • The replacement of the kilns’ burners with more efficient ones so as to reduce gas consumption
  • High-efficiency kilns
  • High-efficiency co-generation systems
  • The use of natural gas (the cleanest currently available fuel)

Due to the ongoing application of technological improvements and innovations in the field of energy efficiency, the tile sector’s total CO2 emissions per tonne of fired tiles has dropped by 60% since 1980.

Re-using waste from the production process

The use of recycled material in the production cycle is encouraged, converting surplus materials from the production process into raw materials for new products so as to reduce waste. In the sector, it is estimated that 100% of all unfired clay waste is re-used, and efforts are made to re-use part of the fired waste so as to reduce the use of new raw materials and the ensuing impact that this would have.

Water consumption and management

The sector strives to ensure efficient consumption of water supplies so as to minimize its water consumption per square metre of manufactured tiles.

80% of the water used as a raw material is consumed in the sector’s spray driers, where almost all of it evaporates. The remaining 20% is used in a closed cycle production process, in which all wastewater is recycled and re-used. This means that there is zero discharge of wastewater in the tile manufacturing process.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)

The Spanish tile industry pioneered the development of a sectoral EPD at a European level, based on a representative sample of Spanish tiles. The Spanish Association of Wall and Floor Tile Manufacturers (ASCER) was the body that promoted this sectoral environmental label, developed in 2019. In addition to this, a large number of tile manufacturers have also developed EPDs for their own products.


características baldosas

Ceramic tile characteristics

Discover the characteristics and benefits of ceramic tiles

resultados de la comparativa de revestimientos

Results of a comparison of covering materials

See the results of our EIG consumer study for a comparison of different covering materials, based on different criteria

Spanish ceramic tiles

The Spanish ceramic tile industry and its environmental performance

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