Interface, Inc. chose Earth Day to reveal highlights made over the past year in reducing its own negative impacts on the earth and to demonstrate ways other companies can achieve progress toward sustainability. Among the top accomplishments heralded by Interface president and CEO Dan Hendrix are: advancements in recycling and diverting used products from landfills; cumulative reductions in green house gas emissions; committing to greater transparency in the form of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs); and educating employees and other stakeholders about the benefits of sustainability.
“Sustainability as a destination is an infectious goal at Interface and a positive force,” said Hendrix. “It’s woven into nearly every aspect of our business, proven out economically over the long-term and changed how we think, operate, communicate and interact. Over the past 12 months, we have made remarkable strides in several areas that all directly tie into our sustainability journey and progress.”
After tracking global environmental and social effects over the last 17 years, Interface continues to move away from a take-make-waste industrial model, toward a sustainable business inspired by nature. The company considers indicators such as its physical waste, energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption to be crucial to understanding its progress toward sustainability and challenges ahead. The organization’s journey is driven by research and development in manufacturing processes and product innovation. Interface also considers the significance of social capital and investment in people, including the company’s employees and local community members, as critical components for advancement.
According to Hendrix, this year’s accomplishments fall within strategic areas where the company has made significant progress toward sustainability and include the following:
1. Forty percent of raw materials used were from recycled or bio-based sources. Interface strives to maximize its use of recycled and bio-based raw materials, utilizing thorough compatibility and footprint analysis to evaluate material alternatives. In the past six years, the percentage of recycled and bio-based raw material use has grown from four percent to 40 percent.
2. ReEntry 2.0, a process that reclaims old carpet and converts it into recycled raw materials, diverted 28 million pounds of carpet from landfills in 2010. Since 1995, ReEntry has diverted a cumulative total of 228 million pounds of carpet and carpet scraps. Additionally, the company’s ReEntry 2.0 reclamation process recently expanded to the company’s European operations in the Netherlands.
3. Actual greenhouse gas emissions at manufacturing facilities have been reduced by 35 percent from a 1996 baseline. Interface’s energy efficiency and direct purchases of renewable energy have resulted in a cumulative reduction of 24,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from baseline. This amount is the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 612,641 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, according to the U.S. EPA’s “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.”
4. Commitment to EPDs on all InterfaceFLOR and Bentley Prince Street products by 2012. EPDs are a leading-edge methodology for consumers and businesses, like nutrition labels, only much more detailed. They offer product “ingredients” and environmental impacts that occur throughout the entire life of a product. EPDs are based on life cycle assessment, which details the resource use and environmental impacts of products. EPDs follow standardized product category guidelines that are verified by third parties to provide full disclosure of all facts. 5. Compelling example of culture inspired by sustainability. Through a project called “Together We Can Reuse It,” Interface employees in Thailand demonstrated waste recycling by creating an inventive new purpose for waste yarn-turning the material into knitted dolls. Employees made and sold dolls, generating proceeds that were then donated to a non-profit foundation. Interface expanded the project beyond the company to benefit the local community in Thailand’s Surin province by teaching the craft to community members, providing them with a new potential source of income.