Green Modular Carpet Company Makes Internal Strides in Sustainability

Atlanta--Interface Inc., which designs and manufactures a sustainable modular carpet product, spent the last 12 months making its green operations even greener and has now gone public with its accomplishments.

Atlanta–Interface Inc. is walking the walk–on its eco-friendly flooring–and talking the talk. The company, which designs and manufactures a sustainable modular carpet product, spent the last 12 months making its green operations even greener and has now gone public with its accomplishments.

Interface took a bevy of steps to increase its sustainability as a company over the last year, and it is revealing details about five of those moves in hopes that they will inspire other companies to follow the same path. “Our hope is that by sharing sustainability progress we can encourage other businesses across many other industries to take their own journeys and do the same,” Maria C. Davlantes, chief marketing officer for Interface, tells MHN.

Recycling played a major role in the carpet manufacturer’s efforts. Recycled or bio-based sources accounted for 40 percent of the materials the company utilized. That was just for starters.

It takes half a century for carpet to decompose, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Interface was able to divert 29 million pounds of carpet from landfills in 2010 through the use of its branded ReEntry 2.0 reclamation process, putting a respectable dent in the 5 billion pounds that flood landfills yearly. Be it at an apartment community or in an office building, carpets of all types can be reclaimed with ReEntry 2.0, which utilizes a newly developed technology to separate the face fiber and backing. Ultimately, the old becomes new again. Interface kicked off 2011 by taking the ReEntry 2.0 process to its operations in the Netherlands, the company’s European base.

The third accomplishment Interface underscores is its cumulative 24,000 metric-ton reduction of greenhouse gas emissions–a reduction from a baseline set in 1996–at its manufacturing facilities, an achievement reached via energy efficiency and direct purchases of renewable energy.

Number four on Interface’s list of environmental stewardship highlights in 2010 involved the company’s decision to set a new goal for transparency in its products, much in the same way the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did for the food industry with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. Interface has made 2012 its deadline to put Environmental Product Declarations in place on all products manufactured under the InterfaceFLOR brand, which is its modular flooring designed for the commercial and institutional markets, including the senior-living residential sector. EPDs serve as a standardized tool for providing information on a product’s environmental impact.

Finally, in what Interface describes as a “compelling example of culture inspired by sustainability,” the company struck a blow for environmental friendliness via an entirely different avenue. Through the “Together We Can Reuse It” project, employees at Interface’s location in Thailand developed a new way to repurpose waste yarn–they made dolls out of it. Not only was the project beneficial for the environment, it was advantageous for the local community, too, as Interface staff sold the knitted toys and donated the profits. Additionally, they shared their new knowledge with locals who can now make recycled dolls for profit, if they so choose.

“The strides we have made since 1994 and in the last year show that journeying toward sustainability can yield very positive results,” Davlantes notes.