Creating A Restorative Loop with the Net-Works™ Program
At Interface, recycling isn’t exactly news. For 18 years, we have deepened our pledge to close the loop and use only recycled or bio-based materials in our products. This includes challenging suppliers to find ways of recycling fibers from our own products and those of our competitors to bring the polymers back into new products – making beauty from waste. The use of 100% recycled content type 6 nylon yarn in many of our products is bringing us another step closer towards our Mission Zero® goal: to eliminate any negative impact Interface may have on the environment by 2020.
To achieve Mission Zero, we strive to only work with partners who have that same level of commitment to building a restorative loop. Our trusted yarn supplier and partner, Aquafil, has pioneered ways to supply Interface with recycled nylon fibers since 2011 – re-purposing waste nylon from many sources, including yarn reclaimed through our own ReEntry® program and end of life fishing nets recovered from the fishing industry supply chain.
With at least 660 million people around the globe relying on the ocean for their livelihoods, and many living on the poverty line, Miriam Turner, Interface’s Assistant VP, Co-Innovation, saw an opportunity. Inspired by Aquafil’s recycling strides, she asked “Could we take this down to the community level and benefit some of the poorest people in the world? What if we could build a truly inclusive business model – buying discarded nets from local fishermen – giving them extra income – and cleaning up the beaches and oceans at the same time?”
Scoping a project of this magnitude requires a lot of hands, hearts and minds – so in 2011 the Co-innovation Team began assembling an army of collaborators, including the Zoological Society of London™ and marine biologist, Dr. Nick Hill. After intensive research and planning, they decided to focus the Net-Works pilot program within the 7,000 Philippine islands, on the Danajon Bank – in one of only six double reefs in the world.
And thus, Net-Works was born. The effects of clearing the beaches of nets isn’t just aesthetic. “In an eco-system as delicate as the Danajon Bank,” Hill states, “discarded nets are incredibly destructive. The nets take centuries to degrade, and with a nylon density greater than that of water, the nets lie on the ocean floor where they do untold damage to marine life.”
Along with helping the villagers clean, sort and sell back the waste nets, Interface and the Net-Works partners have established community banking systems for the residents – supporting and strengthening the local, developing economy, and providing new financial opportunities for residents. Community banking empowers village members to establish forms of micro-insurance, savings and loans for the benefit of both individuals and the community.
Inclusive business is not philanthropy. It means profitable core business activities that take unconventional forms of partnership, expanding opportunities for poor and disadvantaged communities. It means building new models of materials sourcing to ensure the health and safety of our environment. It means beautifully designed products, crafted with care and purpose. And it means another step closer to achieving Mission Zero.