Interface, the world’s largest commercial modular carpet company, demonstrated its leadership yet again last week with the announcement that its Americas manufacturing sites now operate using 96 percent renewable energy. Globally, the company operates on 84 percent renewable energy. The Americas milestone was achieved with the addition of directed biogas to meet the thermal energy needs of the company’s flagship operations in Troup County, Ga. It was 22 years ago that Interface launched Mission Zero, a quest to eliminate its carbon footprint. Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface at the time, declared that Interface was committed to becoming the world’s first environmentally sustainable—and, ultimately, restorative—company. Mission Zero is Interface’s promise to eliminate its negative environmental impacts by 2020. In a press release announcing Interface’s progress toward its 2020 goal, Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability for Interface, said, “Getting our factories in Americas to near 100 percent in renewable energy is a significant achievement—one that is a first for our industry and likely for industry in general.”
As Interface has worked to shift away from fossil fuel derived energy and towards renewables, the company has deployed a variety of strategies. In 2005, Interface pioneered the direct use of landfill gas derived from a local landfill at one of its Troup County, Ga. facilities. Beginning in 2015, Interface started supplementing this landfill gas use by procuring directed biogas, whereby the renewable attributes of biogas injected at one point on an interconnected pipeline system are matched with the same quantity of natural gas at another point on the system. Today, directed biogas makes up 53 percent of the company’s local renewable energy profile, which is rounded out with 42 percent renewable electricity, 4 percent propane and 1 percent landfill gas.
Interface’s 2020 goal is just one part of its sustainability strategy. Interface was the first North American carpet manufacturer to publish a third party verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and it has since expanded its EPDs into seven product categories. Now, 99 percent of Interface products globally have an EPD. An EPD provides the product ingredients and environmental impacts that happen during the entire life of a product. It’s similar to the ingredient and nutrition labels on food. Instead of calories and recommended daily allowances, an EPD shows things like raw material extraction, energy use, air, soil and water emissions and water use and waste generation.
Interface’s carpet designs reflect nature. Its Human Nature collection, for example, remind one of the materials, textures and tones found in the natural world. The collection is made of up to 81 percent total recycled content, including 100 percent recycled content nylon face fiber and Interface’s highest post-consumer recycled content backing. At the same time, these products can be recycled via Interface’s ReEntry recycling process.
Earlier this year, building on the success of its ReEntry recycling operation—which has yielded the diversion of more than 309 million pounds of carpet from landfills over the past 20 years—Interface announced that it is creating a new network of regional recycling allies. First among them is Oakland, Calif.–based Rethink Green, and this initial alliance is expected to increase the amount of carpet that’s annually recycled for use by Interface by 40 to 50 percent. Last May, Interface was awarded LEED-CI Gold certification for its flagship Atlanta showroom which opened the previous July.