This week The Man with A Spear in His Chest, founder of Interface Ray Anderson, held a press conference to mark a milestone in his company's journey up "Mount Sustainability". They are making excellent progress towards their target of zero environmental impact by 2020. Anderson says they are already 60% there with 10 years to go. InterfaceFLOR has been the absolute pioneer of corporate and industrial sustainability over the past 16 years, with consistently radical product and manufacturing innovation. This week was no different when Anderson announced another ambitious environmental target for his business.Environmental Product Declarations
The new Interface initiative is to have all their products labelled with Environmental Product Declarations by 2012. They are embracing the process of life cycle analysis with fervour and are going to publish every performance detail of every product, the good, the bad and the ugly. But this being Interface the good will most likely outweigh the bad and certainly there won't be too much ugly.
Radical transparency is the aim here. Speaking at the press conference Interface CEO Daniel Hendrix spoke about the need to accept trial and error in innovation and track progress. He said:
"Green goals are held to a higher standard. We need to be more mature about the way we proceed in terms of facing up to the realities of advance and set back achievement and challenges. That's a fine thing. We're not looking for magic bullets - we're looking for systematic consideration."
What is an EPD? InterfaceFLOR explains
Our EPDs mean we have prepared a standardized analysis of the full life cycle ("cradle to grave") environmental impacts of our Convert Design Platform, verified by an unbiased third- party. These environmental impacts include: global warming, acidification, eutrophication, ozone depletion, smog and abiotic depletion.
We liked what Hendrix also had to say about the company's Mission Zero journey being about thoughtfulness rather than speed. He spoke about how that at the start of Interface's quest for sustainability, over 16 years ago, it wasn't popular and it wasn't profitable, but by taking the long view the result is massive financial and resource savings and now the "Goodwill in the market place is unprecedented."
Astonishingly, Interface has achieved $433 million in avoided waste cost since 1995.
Daniel Hendrix on thoughtfulness v. speed
"We must have sustainability as our true north. Our metrics must recognise that the compass is more important than the speedometer. The thoughtfulness of mission zero, of the journey and climbing mount sustainability, the goal of transparency these are essential and important elements. Only with that knowledge can we move forward on the path to sustainability."
Interface's EPD strategy is a tool to measure their own performance but also a way of encouraging other businesses to do the same, improving transparency across all industries. Ray Anderson says that "Anyone in the manufacturing industry can develop EPDs."
In answer to the question why is Interface going to such lengths to provide this detailed information about their products Anderson said, "We can because we are able and we can because we must. We want to encourage people to look at the lessons that can be learned from Interface's journey."
More on InterfaceFLOR
Interface, Ten Years Green
Cool Carpet from Interface
Interface's Newest Design: Button Rugs
The TH Interview: Ray Anderson--The Man with a Spear in his Chest (Part One)
The TH Interview: Ray Anderson--The Man with a Spear in his Chest (Part Two)
Quote of the Day: Ray Anderson on Flight