Interface, Inc

By Ottman, Jacquelyn A. | Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis, Annual 1999 | Go to article overview

Interface, Inc


Ottman, Jacquelyn A., Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis


According to Ray Anderson, CEO of Atlanta-based Interface, Inc., a leading maker' of commercial carpet, carpet tile, and other interior furnishings, responsible management of Earth's resources is a question of business survival. In Anderson's words, "Sustainability is the key to achieving the resource efficiency that will be necessary for manufacturing companies such as ours that hope to survive, much less flourish, in the 21st century." Setting his a4-year-old, $i-billion company on course "to become the first name in commercial and industrial ecology worldwide," Anderson is encouraging Interface, with products sold in more than no countries, to incorporate environmentalism into every corner of the firm. Despite a product line based heavily on petrochemicals, Anderson is determined to make his company the paradigm of sustainability and zero waste. He believes that Interface's own impact can be magnified by influencing others, so Interface's example has infinite potential to make the world a better place to live.

Interface's first step toward sustainability begins with the implementation of a three-part educational program. The first is the adoption of environmental training for the entire workforce, to include training in the principles of The Natural Step for all 5,000 employees worldwide. The second is an internal "EcoSense" program which outlines a seven-front approach to sustainability and focuses on resource depletion, landfill use, pollution, and energy waste. The third part aims to increase employees' overall environmental awareness at home as well as in the workplace. By extending positive environmental steps beyond the office walls, Interface hopes to affect attitudes and extend the impact of the internal environmental program-QUEST (Quality Utilizing Employee Suggestions and Teamwork).

At Interface, education translates into profitable innovation. As of 1995, the company entered a revolutionary new phase, and raised the environmental bar in the process-they began leasing carpets through a unique Evergreen Lease Program. Under the program, Interface actually retains ownership of its carpet tile, making itself, the manufacturer, responsible for the maintenance, repair, and ultimate recycling of the carpet tile. …

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