A Company That’s Saving Our Mountains
Apr 01, 2016 05:37PM
By Michelle Bense
Nestled on the east side of Tucson is a company with a mission like no other in Arizona. A&E Recycled Granite is literally working to save our planet’s mountains. Owners Josh and Julie Olauson are on a mission to save natural stone. Their shop is full of displays of wall tiles, pavers and even a fire pit—all beautiful and all recycled.
A&E Recycled Granite works with the countertop fabrication industry in Tucson and Phoenix, and diverts their waste from local landfills. “All of the products we manufacture are from sink cut-outs, edges and remnant slabs. We keep it out of the city’s solid waste stream in a system called Extended Product Responsibility,” explains Josh.
Mountains are being harvested for their granite every year, all over the world. “The U.S. is the biggest consumer of granite in the world, importing it from over 50 countries,” says Julie. “When you consider that up to 60 percent of a slab can be thrown away, that’s a lot of our beautiful mountains being buried under dirty diapers and banana peels.”
The passion they have for this work is easy to see, as they share how they are making a difference in Arizona. “Last year, A&E Recycled Granite diverted over 1.5 million pounds of countertop waste. That’s enough for a seven-story high granite paver stack,” enthuses Julie. “Each time someone uses our locally manufactured products, it’s a victory. That’s one less project that required the mountain to be harvested and cut up, then transported across the oceans. That’s another couple hundred pounds of granite that isn’t taking up space in Tucson or Phoenix’s landfills.”
According to Josh, his wife can talk for hours about the difference they’re trying to make. She speaks at schools, councils and conferences and has even created a 10-minute documentary that highlights the scope of the issue. Julie says, “That’s why they call me ‘the mouth’ and Josh ‘the muscle’.” Every granite piece A&E manufactures into its building materials is hand-sorted. “That means that all 1.5 million pounds has been lifted and sorted by a person,” explains Julie. “It’s quite a workout,” says Josh, “but, it’s well worth it. Every time I see a pallet of pavers heading to a job site, I know that our hard work has made a difference.”
All of A&E’s products are made from solid stone. “We don’t use any form of chemicals, resins or epoxies in our manufacturing process. It is 100 percent natural stone,” says Josh. Because some natural stone includes mica and quartz crystals, the pavers seem to sparkle in the light. “Concrete pavers can’t even come close to duplicating the look of natural stone. That’s why it was mined in the first place—because of its beauty,” explains Julie. Some of the products that are creating a mountain of change include Split Stone Veneer, Subway Tiles, Granite Pavers and Fire Pit Kits.
A&E Recycled Granite won the 2015 Most Innovative New Product Award from the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. This award proves that architects, builders and those in the housing industry value the recycled granite building materials they are bringing to the market and that they understand the benefit of using an eco-friendly product.
A&E does not sell only to those in the trade. “We have a lot of do-it-yourselfers who work with our products too. They’re easy to install, so even first-time remodelers can achieve amazing results,” says Julie.
In the future, A&E Recycled Granite will keep working within the industry to promote these new products, continue to educate on why we need to save our mountains and continue to work hard to preserve Arizona’s natural landscapes, Josh says.
Connect with A&E Recycled Granite at 520-885-8970 (Tucson Metro), 480-739-0234 (Phoenix Metro) or AERecycledGranite.com. See ad, page 3.
Michelle Bense is a freelance editor and writer for Natural Awakenings magazines. Connect with her at [email protected].