Interface: Still Mountain Climbing
It’s time again to cheer the supreme greenness of Interface. Regular readers know that I do this enthusiastically and frequently despite grumbles from some of my design colleagues unhappy with the company for still using PVC backings on its carpet tiles. Interface defends its decision but that’s a subject for another column.
Today let’s celebrate Interface’s announcement of a yearlong, in-depth look at the company’s EcoMetrics, that will assess progress and create a vision for what success looks like. Interface describes its environmental journey as a climb up the seven fronts of Mount Sustainability and by year’s end will publish a report detailing both progress and the road ahead.
First up is the release of the company’s most recent waste reduction and re-materialization metrics. Waste reduction refers to eliminating all forms of financial and process waste – everything from the cost of order errors to landfilled scrap. Re-materialization is the redesign of processes and products to close the technical loop using recovered and bio-based raw materials.
For the year 2009 the global numbers are impressive: of the over 400 million pounds of raw materials purchased in 2009:
· 3.4 million pounds of waste (less than 1%) went to landfills, compared to 15 million pounds in 1996; a 77 percent reduction
· 6.9 million pounds of raw material were recycled to be re-used again
· 9.6 million pounds of waste was sent to energy recovery as a use of last resort.
Continued savings from the QUEST program, the employee-driven “Quality Utilizing Employee Suggestions and Teamwork” initiative that rewards employees who identify and then reduce all forms of waste, has netted the company $433 million in cumulative, avoided costs since 1995.
Interface’s Mission Zero vision - “To be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: People, process, product, place and profits — by 2020 — and in doing so we will become restorative through the power of influence.” – is indeed lofty. But if anyone can do it, it’s Ray Anderson and his gang.
In the coming months Interface will release additional metrics, culminating with a Sustainability Report to be published later this year that will detail the company’s plan to get to 2020. I wish them luck.