Leading a corporate ecological transition: the example of Interface, Inc.

Eric Rampelberg
Vice-President of Interface, Inc. for Southern Europe, India and South-East Asia
In addition to actions in the product design sphere, the company’s circular strategy also covers its business models, with the development of service-led solutions such as reuse and a function-led model based on usage rather than product-led solutions based on volumes.
Eric Rampelberg
Vice-President of Interface, Inc. for Southern Europe, India and South-East Asia

 

Interface, Inc. was founded by Ray Anderson in 1973 and specializes in manufacturing carpet tiles for commercial clients, a sector where it is world leader with 2019 revenue of 1.2 billion dollars. The company became aware of the scale of its environmental impacts, and of the fact that it is part of the problem, as early as 1994. At the time, Ray Anderson instigated a top-to-bottom review with the company’s various stakeholders to transform the company mission and focus on transitioning to a more sustainable approach. In 1996, the company adopted Mission Zero, a new corporate project targeting the year 2020: the goal was to move to zero environmental impact by 2020. A new and even more ambitious roadmap, called Climate Take Back, has been put in place for the period up to 2040.

In terms of circularity, a range of targets and actions have progressively emerged: incorporation of recycled and bio-sourced materials when designing products, and development of products with designed-in sustainability that are longer-lasting and easier to reuse. In addition to actions in the product design sphere, the company’s circular strategy also covers its business models, with the development of service-led solutions such as reuse and a function-led model based on usage rather than product-led solutions based on volumes.

An article from the next issue of the Veolia Institute's Review - FACTS Reports to be published soon.

Faced with the limitations of our linear production and consumption model and the historical waste management system, the transition to a circular economy has become a necessity. This transformation requires significant changes in behavior on the part of actors (companies, consumers/citizens), which public policies must encourage. An innovative and job-creating circular economy will scale up at the company level, as well as within larger ecosystems, thanks to new business models.

In partnership with the Scientific Management Centre at the Mines ParisTech academy, the Veolia Institute is preparing the next issue of its review FACTS Reports, to be published in the summer of 2021, on the theme of "Industries and waste: on the road to the circular economy". This issue, coordinated by Franck Aggeri, Joël Ntsondé and Helen Micheaux, will bring together some fifteen contributions from researchers, international organizations, local authorities, associations and companies.

The Veolia Institute conducts foresight work on issues at the crossroads of the environment and society. Through conferences, a review and forward-looking working groups, the Veolia Institute brings together and disseminates the experience and expertise of various players to offer a wide perspective on major environmental and societal issues.
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