Carpet company undertakes mission to become a restorative enterprise

Carpet company undertakes mission to become a restorative enterprise

For the first 21 years of its existence, carpet tile manufacturer InterfaceFLOR gave no serious thought to what it was taking from – or doing to – the Earth. Like all good companies, it abided by all the necessary laws and regulations, and like most companies it focused on running a growing business.

In 1994, while preparing remarks on InterfaceFLOR’s environmental plans for a company meeting, the Chairman read Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce. He described this experience as an epiphany, a “spear to the chest” awakening to the urgent need for InterfaceFLOR to set a new course toward sustainability.

The challenge

InterfaceFLOR committed to becoming the first name in industrial ecology worldwide. It set itself the challenge to convert InterfaceFLOR to a restorative enterprise by 2020.

What the company did

As a first step, InterfaceFLOR needed to reach sustainability in its business practices. Mission Zero committed the company to eliminating all of its negative impacts on the environment by 2020.

To become truly restorative, however, InterfaceFLOR will ultimately have to return more than it takes. To achieve that, it has begun to think of its business along the principles of The Natural Step Framework, which asks how nature would design an industrial system.

The outcome

Launched in 1995, Mission Zero has seen InterfaceFLOR reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 82% while increasing revenue by 66% and profit by 100%.

It has also helped market share: during the recession of 2001-03, InterfaceFLOR’s sales fell by 17% – against an industry-wide fall of 36%.

Staff retention and acquisition costs are down, and the value of the word-of-mouth advertising is incalculable.

TCii, in conjunction with the Carbon Free Group, is able to offer The Natural Step analysis tools.

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