What a week! I just got back from a whirlwind visit to the InterfaceFLOR facilities outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve blogged about Interface before and their commitment to the environment as well as the recent passing of their founder and CEO, Ray Anderson. I had previously seen Ray speak a few times, but I was very excited to get an invitation from my local Interface rep, Chuck Timmerman, to go visit the Interface plants and meet some of the company’s thought leaders. Interface and Ray Anderson have long been respected as leaders in a “new” industrial revolution that moves away from the old “take, make, waste” model of typical manufacturing and focuses on eliminating waste and, hopefully, eventually creating process that are actually regenerative and actually do good in addition to doing no harm.
The plant tours were fascinating- it was very impressive to see how clean the plants were and how much pride the workers had in the jobs they were doing. We visited three plants, one where carpet tufting occurs, one where the carpet tile backing is added and finally one where used carpet from all different manufacturers are reclaimed and processed into nylon fiber which is sold to other manufacturers and composite pellets of recycled content that are used by Interface to make new carpet backing. I was impressed with the company transparency that was exhibited during the tours. We were able to visit pretty much every area, take pictures almost everywhere and ask as many questions as we wanted.
If you’re looking for models on how to make product manufacturing more sustainable or how to build a more sustainable corporate culture, I strongly recommend that you check out Interface’s story and the book Ray Anderson wrote entitled: Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose–Doing Business by Respecting the Earth.