How Clay Imports Improves Sustainability

Sustainability to build a better future

By Clay Imports

At Clay Imports, we firmly believe that sustainability is not just a buzzword; it is a responsibility we owe to our planet and future generations. That is why we have made it our mission to prioritize sustainability in every aspect of our business. In this article, we’ll show you the actions we do in our daily work in order to archive this sustainability.

What is sustainability?

For us, sustainability involves meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own. Right now, construction and especially the ceramic industry is going to be deeply involved in the transition to a circular economy. This model of production and consumption involves sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of ceramic  products is extended and the environment receives less impact.

At Clay Imports, we prioritize sustainability by creating a system that benefits everyone involved in the production process, from makers and designers to producers and consumers. To achieve this, we've organized our sustainability practices into four categories.

Sustainability Environmental & Efficiency

In 2021, world tile production reached over 18 million square meters, up 7.2% from the production recorded in 2020. The result reflects the strong increase of tile demand, but also an increment of waste. According to different estimations, the manufacturing of ceramic tiles generates about 1.4 million tons of wastes (expressed as dry solid) by year.

Although this is only 5% of the raw materials consumption, since most countries have no specific processing plan for these materials, almost 35% of all of this waste ends up in landfills instead of being reused and recycled in new construction.

Every ceramic product has three main phases: pre-kiln, kiln and post-kiln operations. Products that do not meet quality standards can be recycled before kiln operation but after firing ceramic products usually gets discarded and becomes waste.

Recycled tiles by Clay Imports

In order to prevent this, all of our waste raw materials pre-firing are recycled into new products. We found a way to reuse glazed ceramic tiles, and we offer them in our recycled clay collection30% of our stock products are recycled using post-fired clay that is pulverized and mixed back into our clay bodies making them stronger and more durable.

As you might suspect, here at Clay Imports, we work a lot with clay. Specifically with Saltillo clay. Saltillo tiles are natural terracotta products made in the Mexican city of the same name which are fired at a lower temperatures and without using gas or any other high pollution combustible. 

Also, our preferred tile sealers are Low-VOC and non-hazardous to the environment, installers or users of the sealant and product. You can check them in our online store. Following this logic, we have developed Clay Care products which are Clay Imports branded maintenance items designed to preserve and enhance the beauty of your tiles and keep them spotless for years to come, while using the most environmental friendly ingredients.

Excavation of clay doesn’t impact communities within the geographical area of excavation and beyond. We work with local, small businesses and clay producers, which translates to a smaller-scale production that does not require heavy duty tools that impact the environment negatively.

Finally, we also implemented made-to-order production. This practice not only allows us to generate the least amount of waste possible, by making only the tiles and products we need, but also we assure you get your product with the exact specifications you need, 100% handcrafted.

Sustainability in shipping and delivery

Measurement of environmental impact along the whole supply chain is crucial to improve sustainability because without measurement, improvement is impossible. This is why we pay close attention to the impact our shipping practices have on our communities and environment.

First, we are working towards being a full e-commerce store. All our catalogs and tiles can be seen at where you can browse different shapes and sizes available with just one click. Operating 99% paperless and keeping our spec sheets, catalogs and other resources online, makes for less paper products in circulation while having these resources continuously updated and always accessible in our resources tab.

At Clay Imports, we send your products in the most environmentally friendly package possible. Our warehouse team only uses recycled packaging materials, from carton boxes to peanuts and pallets 100% hydrosoluble, which don’t spoil the water or soil where they dissolve. 

We move all our products locally, on this continent: We have no overseas production, so that means no ocean freight is required. More than 90% of our raw materials are strategically sourced within the 20-mile diameter of our production facilities. Distribution locations are strategically planned along efficient transport routes for reduced transit time, minimizing the need for long-distance shipping and reducing CO2 emissions.

Sustainability for community and equity

Sustainability practices are great but not effective if they are not being reflected in our community. Clay Imports is deeply committed to supporting our community and promoting equity. That’s why we are involved in Sister Cities Organizations, bringing together leaders and community contributors of Saltillo, Coahuila and Austin, Texas, with the goal of supporting and encouraging traditional production practices that are handed down from generation to generation of our production communities. 

We also help educate the newests generations. First, we talk with future design professionals on the impact of utilization of products that are sustainable by lecturing and creating interactive design exercises with university students. Most recently we worked with interior design and architecture students from the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University. You can learn more about  one of these collaborations here.

University of Texas School of Architecture collaboration with Clay Imports
University of Texas School of Architecture collaboration with Clay Imports
University of Texas School of Architecture collaboration with Clay Imports
We also provide educational tours of our craft communities through Tile Tours: providing a connection between our clients and our craftspeople. We are often in a lot of activities, so don’t forget to keep an eye on our community blog entries.
Clay Imports Tile tours at Austin Tx
Speaking of which, we engage and support our communities with interactive events such as our Breeze Block Competition in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, with engagement in civic projects and donations such as Austin Pets Alive, Habitat for Humanity and Community First, and we pledge to donate 1% of our annual profits to Austin communities per year.
Community first village in Austin, TX with Clay Imports
Community first village in Austin, TX with Clay Imports
Austin Pets Alive collaboration with Clay Imports

Sustainability for economy and prosperity

Here at Clay Imports we value the expertise and craftsmanship of our producers, ensuring fair compensation and providing opportunities for their growth and development. We provide our international producers and employees at a 40% higher rate compensation than average industry standards.

Tile makers in Saltillo Mexico Clay Imports
Tile makers in Saltillo Mexico Clay Imports
Tile makers in Saltillo Mexico Clay Imports

As opposed to overseas production, all of our production happens in Mexico, supporting and strengthening our economic ties with our vecino del sur and ensuring the proliferation of quality goods. We also work tightly with our production partners, introducing new techniques such as extrusion and pressurized molds to our producers to increase their efficiency and lessen waste. 

All of our production materials are sourced and purchased local to the community that produced it, resulting in less transportation emissions and an economic strength for their community. 

Finally, all our products are 100% handmade. Handmade tiles exhibit natural variations, which are inherent traits of natural products like Terracotta. These variations are not defects but rather a natural part of the product. We highly recommend ordering samples before making a final purchase to confirm and appreciate these natural variations in each tile.

Craftsmen making equipale furniture Clay Imports

Craftsmen making equipale furniture Clay Imports


In conclusion, at Clay Imports, we firmly believe that sustainability is not just a buzzword; it is a responsibility we owe to our planet and future generations. We believe that by prioritizing the environment, community, and economy, we can create a better future for our planet, because together, we can make a difference.

Remember, the majority of our production is made-to-order, so be sure to check with our specialist if you want to customize your products or you can always see what we have in stock in Ready-to-Ship collection 

If you have any questions or require more information, don't hesitate to reach out to us at or chat with us here