Interface to Conduct Life Cycle Analyses on All Products

Interface to Conduct Life Cycle Analyses on All Products

 Modular carpet maker Interface will complete Environmental Product Declarations — detailed documents explaining the life cycle impacts of items — for all of its products by 2012 and challenged other companies to set goals similar to its Mission Zero program.

Interface became the first North American carpet maker to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) last March, and earlier this year it completed EPDs for three more carpet tile lines. EPDs are based on life cycle analyses that look at products from their raw material stage to disposal and are third party certified.

Today the company announced that in two years it will have EPDs for all its goods, and Interface founder Ray Anderson called on others to commit to doing the same.

Dan Hendrix, Interface president and CEO, said EPDs provide a high level of transparency and allow customers to compare products based on standardized measurements. If more companies create EPDs, more customers will be able to see what all the impacts of various products are and start comparing them, and likely lean towards those with lesser impacts.

"Higher demand for more sustainable products will drive us further and faster," Hendrix said.

Along those lines, Alan Anderson of Boeing said that a small purchase of Interface carpet for some Boeing office space has led to the development of Interface carpet light enough to go on airplanes.

Anderson, the director of engineering for payload systems, said that Interface's carpet was chosen, based on its recyclability, for the remodeling of an office area that needed less than 200 yards of carpet. That led to discussions between Boeing and Interface about making the carpet light enough to use in airplanes. Initially it was viewed as unlikely to happen, but four years later, a light enough carpet has been created and used in a Southwest demonstration plan, and Boeing is close to making it a commercial offering.

Hendrix also challenged others to create their own company-wide programs like Interface's Mission Zero, which has steered every aspect of Interface towards sustainability.

Interface is working toward its Mission Zero goals of having zero environmental impact and zero footprint by 2020. So far it has reduced its absolute net greenhouse gas emissions by 94 percent, reduced landfill waste 80 percent and cut energy use by 43 percent per unit since 1996. Overall it has lowered it has shrunk its footprint by 60 percent.

"The lesson here: It is possible," Ray Anderson said, adding that Interface has saved $433 million in avoided waste costs since 1994. "Done right, sustainability does not cost; it pays."