Interface is a global commercial flooring company with over 3,500 employees, offering an integrated collection of modular carpet tiles and resilient flooring.
Whilst some companies are only beginning to address their climate impact, way back in the 1990’s, Interface was an early adopter of the principles of carbon reduction through founder and chairman Ray Anderson’s ambitious ‘Mission Zero’ initiative. This laid out a plan for the company to become carbon neutral by 2020.
To achieve this they radically redesigned Interface and its carpet tile production, steadily reducing their carbon footprint and water usage, moving to 100% renewable energy and using only recycled and bio-based product materials. The ambitious programme, far from hampering growth, saw the business portfolio continue to grow.
Their sustainability journey not only brought transformational innovation but increased profits. By investing resources in the sustainable practices and capabilities, new revenue streams opened up positioning the company far ahead of its competitors.
Initiatives introduced included the use discarded fishing nets recycled into new yarn whilst factories adopted green energy technologies to enhance efficiency levels. A circular economy approach saw greenhouse gas and product carbon emissions slashed to the point where, this year, they achieved this objective – a whole two years ahead of schedule – enabling them to turn their attention to the next challenge.
The company has now set a target of becoming carbon negative by 2040. The new ambition ‘Climate Take Back’ vows to “bring carbon home and reverse climate change”, inspired by Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown
This involves an innovative approach to emissions across its raw material sourcing, supply chains and direct operations in order to remove more carbon from the environment than it generates. This not only applies to its operations but also to those of its supply chain.
The firm is set to invest in the research and development of factories that sequester more carbon than they emit, while expanding its range of carbon-negative products.
Nigel Stansfield, President Interface, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Interface has been striving for zero since 1994. As we embark on our new Climate Take Back mission, we have a more ambitious goal to reverse global warming.
“Through radical decarbonisation, creating products that store carbon and building factories to function as forests, we are working towards becoming regenerative.”
As part of the programme, earlier this year, the company announced that it would only offer carbon-neutral products as standard to buyers, with the firm’s entire product range now listed under a Carbon Neutral Floors programme. In one example of continued innovation, carpet tile backing ‘CircuitBac Green’ uses bio based content to provide a carbon-negative alternative to existing backing materials, meaning it absorbs more carbon than it emits during its production.
Acknowledging the need for wider engagement across the sector and beyond, the strategy also includes investment in research that further supports technological, ecological, and social solutions aimed at inspiring others to set ambitious climate goals.
Jon Khoo, Innovation Partner,Interface, said: “Businesses need to be thinking about how they can do more good. At Interface, we’re looking to take back our climate and run our business in a way that reverses global warming. That’s the scale of ambition we all need to have.”
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KBI Global Investors is an investment manager based in Ireland, managing over $12bn in assets on behalf of clients based in the US, Europe, Canada, the UK and Asia, investing mostly in listed (public) equities.
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