Jay Bolus recently wrote an intriguing post on GreenBiz.com entitled “Why Green Marketing Should Go Beyond Description by Omission.” I found myself nodding in agreement throughout his post. Jay was disappointed by the lack of sustainable innovation he found at NeoCon; in response, I’d like to highlight the innovation from InterfaceFLOR.
It will come as no surprise to people who know our company that InterfaceFLOR definitely made sustainability a priority in our product design for NeoCon. We focused on what is present in our products: 100% non virgin nylon type 6 yarn, made from a combination of post-consumer and pre-consumer waste by Aquafil. Sources for the post-consumer recycled content include nylon yarn harvested by InterfaceFLOR from reclaimed carpet as well as nylon fishing nets collected from sea ports.
As we strive to completely eliminate our reliance on petroleum (i.e., “to get Off Oil“), we have been focused on closing the loop on all of our materials – especially the raw materials used to make carpet tile. Years ago we took a big step toward closing the loop on our backing by using 100% recycled content from carpet tile to create our GlasBacRE backing layers. Since then, we’ve been focused on closing the loop on yarn, and introducing 100% non-virgin content yarn at NeoCon marks a huge milestone for us.
100% non-virgin nylon represents a huge leap forward for our industry, because the upstream impacts from nylon are so damaging. Petrochemical extraction and processing to make nylon represents a substantial portion of the carbon footprint of an InterfaceFLOR carpet tile (total transportation represents a mere 3%). By replacing virgin nylon with 100% non-virgin nylon, we reduce the life cycle carbon footprint of our GlasBacRE products from 21.7 pounds CO2E to 11.8 pounds CO2E per square yard – a 46% improvement! Other measurable environmental impacts, like acidification and eutrophication are also reduced dramatically by this revolutionary supply chain shift.
To Jay's excellent point about deserving to know what is in our products, InterfaceFLOR is busily registering Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for all of our products, worldwide. We're on track to have 100% EPD coverage by 2012, and we’ve already published EPDs for two product platforms in the U.S. EPDs provide 3rd party verified disclosure of product ingredients and of full environmental life cycle impacts – all created according to robust ISO protocols and Product Category Rules (meaning the scope and boundary of the Life Cycle Assessment is pre-defined for the entire product category). This is the closest thing to the coveted “Nutrition Facts” label that exists for products, and we need more stakeholders demanding this level of verified transparency from manufacturers.
Next year, I hope anyone looking for sustainable products will come find me in the InterfaceFLOR showroom at NeoCon. Sustainability drives our design every day, so I’m sure I will have some new sustainability innovations to share with you.