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Manufacturing

Our Mission Zero® journey is changing the way we design and make products for the better. We’ve made great strides towards more sustainable products by using recycled and biobased raw materials and developing ways to recycle our products (FRONT #4). We are also redesigning our processes to reduce the resources required to make our products.

Cool Blue
 

Materials

Finding alternatives to virgin petroleum-based raw materials is a big part of Interface®’s Mission Zero goal. Our carpet products consist of three layers, a face layer of fiber, a middle layer, and a backing layer. We are exploring ways to increase the use of renewable and recycled materials in all components of our products.

As of 2016, 58% of the raw materials used to make carpet were recycled or biobased.

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Biobased Materials:
Our research into renewable materials led us to explore fibers made from polylactic acid (PLA), flax, hemp and wool. As we continue to explore the use of these materials, we will need to consider their complete impacts – particularly their relation to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food supplies, and the agricultural practices used to produce them. While current biobased products may not be the final answer in our quest for renewable fibers, they are a significant step in the right direction.

Recycled Materials:
Interface has significantly increased the recycled content in our products, both post-industrial and post-consumer, since we began our Mission Zero journey. Over the past few years however, we have made significant strides as a result of the ReEntry® and Cool Blue™ processes described below. Our current technologies allow us to manufacture product with up to 80% total recycled content.

 

ReEntry®

In 2007, Interface became the first carpet manufacturer to implement a process for the “clean separation” of carpet fiber from backing, allowing for a maximum amount of post-consumer material to be recycled into new products with minimal contamination. Through a process called ReEntry® 2.0, clean, post-consumer Nylon fiber is returned to Interface's fiber supplier where it, in combination with some virgin materials, is recycled into new Nylon for use in new carpet fiber. At the same time, the backing material is crumbled and transformed into new backing using our Cool Blue™ backing technology. Plastics that cannot be used for Interface processes or products are distributed to other industry suppliers for re-use in their material streams, or otherwise disposed of in a responsible manner.

The ReEntry 2.0 process has lower embodied energy than other recycling systems in the carpet industry today. It will keep more carpet out of landfills, while providing a steady stream of post-consumer recycled materials across the industry.

 

Supply Chain

We quickly learned that the substantial majority of our product’s footprint was incurred before our raw materials reached our receiving docks. For Interface to be sustainable, we need to educate and actively engage our suppliers on our Mission Zero journey.

We began with Supplier Summits – conversations with our key suppliers to introduce them to our mission and sustainability goals. Today, we collaborate closely with our core strategic suppliers to address their own environmental impacts and, specifically, the impacts of the products they supply to Interface. This collaboration has resulted in solutions ranging from small steps to reduce our climate impacts to new and innovative technologies that increase the recycled content of our products.

 

Water Use

Interface has drastically reduced its water use through process changes and fixture replacement. The water intensity of our manufacturing process is relatively low, particularly for our modular carpet operations.

As of 2015, we decreased our water intake per unit of product by 86% since 1996.

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