Yes, you read that correctly – paper countertops. Richlite is primarily paper treated with phenolic resin and then baked to form a solid sheet. The colors and surfaces are quite reminiscent of Corian’s one color products, and the beautiful results and practical applications are best in bathroom’s and kitchen’s. Richlite has been used in the aerospace industry since the late 1950’s, and is a common material in skateparks and boats, too.
The paper used in the process comes form certified managed forests in North America. Richlite is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (keep in mind, here, that products are NEVER certified by USGBC) and is considered a green product due to its main ingredient, paper, being derived from renewable or recycled resources.
From their website:
Managed and sustainable forests, habitat conservation efforts, along with prudent manufacturing practices are just some of the environmental mandates that go into our product.
We use the most environmentally benign production methods and materials available. During the saturation and drying process, over 99% of the volatile organic compounds are incinerated. The heat from that incineration is used for the drying process to minimize thermal pollution. There is no hazardous waste generated in our process.
You can easily find a dealer from Richlite’s interactive map. Headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, it is doubly attractive for those of you looking to go after the regional materials points (MR Credits 5.1 & 5.2) in the LEED NC guidelines if your project is in the Pacific Northwest. Costs are similar to what one would pay for Corian, far below the costs of Granite and other manufactured stones.