I’m frequently surprised at how often I meet someone in the conscious business world who does not know about Interface. I can’t quite remember when I first heard about Ray Anderson’s 1994 spear-in-the-chest revelation and the 25-year environmental transformation that followed, but I have been a fan of the story for years: a global public company in one of the world’s dirtiest industries decides to become a paragon of environmental stewardship, embarking on “Mission Zero” — Interface’s promise to eliminate any negative impact the company may have on the environment by the year 2020 — not for marketing purposes, but because they can’t keep doing business as usual and be proud of the world they are leaving for their grandchildren.
Erin Meezan, chief sustainability officer and vice president of Interface Inc., also believes that the company’s story is important, and she admits that they could do a better job telling it. She sent me a copy of a speech she gave in January 2019 in which she summarized the company’s achievements to date:
- Interface has reduced waste to landfill 91%
- Interface has reduced factory water use 88%
- 88% of all the energy Interface uses globally comes from renewable sources, including 100% in Europe and 98% in the US
- All Interface factories operate with 100% renewable electricity
- Interface has reduced GHG emissions intensity 96%
“Because of our progress on recycled materials, we hit a major milestone in 2018,” Meezan says. “All of our products were able to be made carbon-neutral by purchasing a small amount of offsets. We now sell carbon-neutral products across our global portfolio, including carpet, rubber, and luxury vinyl tile — and we did that two years ahead of our commitment to do so by 2020. That means [we’ve achieved] net-zero carbon in the atmosphere as a result of all of our products. Everywhere.”
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