Sustainability is more than just waste reduction initiatives and certifications at Interface (though those do also play a role). Designing and manufacturing beautiful flooring is underpinned by the company’s purpose: to build a resilient carbon negative business that provides excellent products for its customers while also reversing global warming. For 27 years the company has been on its journey to do better for the environment and in 2019 celebrated success, achieving their Mission Zero goals ahead of time while making all their flooring carbon neutral across the entire product life cycle. And now in 2021, under their Climate Take Back Plan, they are releasing a carbon negative carpet tile into the market here in Australia.
The product, Embodied Beauty, is a range featuring three simple yet elegant designs, inspired by Japanese minimalism. Interface has developed an innovative backing, CQuestBio, that uses high quantities of bio-based raw materials that make the product carbon negative, cradle to gate. “Because the backing has sequestered a lot of carbon, this off sets the impacts of the yarn or the other materials in the carpet. The result is a product that is net carbon negative. By keeping control over our supply chain for raw materials and our manufacturing processes, we can ensure that it’s a carbon negative product, cradle to gate.” says Aidan. “It’s not carbon-negative for its full lifecycle because Interface can’t influence the transport, use and end-of-life stages of the product life cycle. We can only control the raw materials we use how the product is made”.
“Carpet tile with the CQuestBio backing is the next generation of product for Interface,” says Aidan. “We’ve made leaps and bounds over the last 27 years in terms of greenhouse gas emissions achieving a 76% reduction in carbon footprint against the 1994 baseline. We did this not by using carbon offsets but by converting our factories to 100% renewable energy, increasing the use of post-consumer recycled content in our product and through de-materialisation i.e., less is more. Once we introduce more products using the CQuestBio backing technology we’ll be down below zero. So Embodied Beauty is our vanguard product that will help Interface become a carbon negative company by 2040.”
In a time where many businesses preach sustainability and greenwashing is rife, seeing a business adopt a carbon negative approach to product design that begins with raw materials and ends by recycling those same materials at the end of their lifespan is refreshing. The desire to create these products was not driven by commercial need but by purpose, as Aidan explains: “Did our customers ask for it? I quote Henry Ford when he said ‘If I’d asked my customers what they wanted they would have told me a faster horse!’ Customers don’t really always know what they want. And I think it’s a bit like that. I think the fact that we have released these carbon negative products onto the market last year in the US, and more recently in Australia, has been a real wow factor for our customers.”
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Commercial Architecture (Large)