Interface: A Sustainability Pioneer
Interface is showing the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: people, process, product, place and profits.
Interface, Inc. is the world’s largest modular carpet manufacturer. The publicly traded company has committed itself to eliminate any negative impact it has on the environment by 2020.
On its first day of operation in 1973, the Atlanta-based company faced significant challenges from sharply rising petrochemical costs, a key raw material in the carpet industry. Modular carpet tiles grew in popularity with the office building boom of the mid-1970s and by 1978 company’s sales had reached $11 million. The company went public in 1983.
In 1987, Interface became the undisputed world leader in carpet tiles. Over the years, the company’s growth has been augmented by more than 50 acquisitions. It entered the residential market in 2003.
In the mid-1990s, under the leadership of the late Ray Anderson, the company shifted strategy, aiming to redirect its industrial practices to include a focus on sustainability without sacrificing its business goals. This was done is recognition that its manufacturing processes, relying largely on petrochemicals, was polluting the land wherever it had facilities.
Since then, Interface has grown into a billion-dollar corporation, named by Fortune as one of the “Most Admired Companies in America” and the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” It has diversified and globalized its businesses, with sales in 110 countries and manufacturing facilities on four continents.
Watch Interface founder Ray Anderson’s 15-minute TED talk on the logic of sustainability:
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