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Germany’s success on renewable energy

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Last year, European renewable energy production was ahead of nuclear power at 29% vs 27%  and 26% of coal. Electricity generation from renewable energy sources had grown substantially between 2010 and 2013, growth between 2014 and 2015 was moderate according to the Agora Energiewende policy institute.

Germany, world’s 4th largest economy has generated 90% of its power needs from renewable energy last Sunday, May 8th. That’s huge. According to Agora Energiewend ‘ graphic, a German think-tank and policy laboratory, at 11 am local time the total output of German’s renewable power, wind, solar, hydropower and biomass has reached 55 gigawatts. 


Considering that Germany is Europe’s biggest economical power, this demonstrates that wind and solar energy can keep the pace with the demands of this society. But also, we cannot forget that Germany is not exactly the king in sun. Other countries have much more capacity to produce, yet still not until long ago Germany was world’s leader on solar energy.


The secret to Gemany’s success in renewable energy are the individuals. Smart policies have pushed people and businesses to the renewable market, and in 2012 individuals owned more that a 3rd of Germany’s renewable energy capacity. 

Still, Germany gets most of its power from fossil fuels. On average, renewables supply a 30% of it’s needs. Sunday’s peak resulted from a combination of reduced demand, abundance of wind and sunshine. But this does not make it less important. It still is a huge proportion generated. 

The European Union has resolved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 40% below the 1990 levels and raise the renewables share in final energy consumption up to 27%. To reach these targets, the share of renewable energy sources in the electricity sector must rise significantly in the next few years and we must reduce / decline coal-based power substantially. 

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How to regulate plastics

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I had a very inspiring meeting organised by Globe EU ( at the EU parliament, hosted by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen.

Ocean Plastic20 million tonnes of plastics end up in landfill and 4 m tonnes in energy recovery  while only 7 million go for recycling. But only are recycled 4 million of those 7 and they are normally downcycled. It was great to learn all these figures from Suez, including that China imports 9m of plastics and that 50% of the UK plastics go to China.

The issue of plastics will grow exponentially and in emerging markets the growth is becoming mind-blowing.

I fully support the EU commission that we need to change paradigm and think about product design first (instead of waste policies like in the past). Product design related policies were at the heart of the EU’s End of Pipe emissions for vehicles strategy and it has worked. In fact, it worked so well that some car markers were cheating it.

Here are some thoughts for future policies:

Incentivise high recycled content in products with lower taxes e.g.. get exempt VAT for a while

Use of green public procurement to buy more products with high recycled content

Much more aggressive policies to end landfill and massively decrease WTE for many waste streams (the market would react and create technologies to recycle)

Standardisation of packaging waste with good practice and standard materials

Helping develop voluntary standards that incentivise recycled content eg. in the construction industry standards such as LEED or BREEAM favour recycled content

Tax carbon (recycled content has lower footprint than virgin)

Dedicate more research to understand what incentives and knowledge are needed for product manufacturers to design better dissasemblable products

Dedicate more research to understand what are current and future recycling technologies and how these link to market barriers for the processed waste streams

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Economic growth is decoupled from carbon again this year

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For second year running, the economy grew while decreasing its carbon footprint, according to analysis of preliminary data for 2015 released by the International Energy Agency (IAE).

CO%22 The two largest emitters, China and the United States, registered a decline in energy-related CO2 in 2015.

The emissions in China declined by 1,5%due to the restructuring of its industry towards less energy-intensive industries and the government’s efforts to decarbonize electricity generation, which pushed down the coal use. Therefore in 2015 in China less than 70% of the entry was coal generated, 10% less than in 2010. This energy was substituted by hydropower, solar and wind generated energy.

Meanwhile, in the United States the emissions declined by a 2% as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place.

In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe theres is still a moderate increase.

This decline observed in the two major emitters was offset by the increasing emissions in most other Asian developing economies.

Finally, all those Economic ministers / Treasuries that thought this was imposible now they have their proof.

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Is energy storage the real killer?

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A new report from The Carbon Trust says energy storage could save £2.4bn every year in the UK electricity system if some market barriers are removed. Some of the key identified barriers are: policy risks, failure to recognize externality benefits to society, revenue cannibalisation risks, distorted markets price signals, among others.

The analysis, backed by UK department DECC, estimates that around £7bn could be saved annually if energy storage technologies are integrated effectively into the grid system.

Please see the full new report from the Carbon trust.

Recently, the US department for Energy announced good news about breakthrough energy storage technologies, especially for large scale storage.

Please see the full article from the Guardian

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European Business coalition are calling on EU leaders to act on the Paris Agreement on Climate policies.

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On Tuesday in Brussels a major coalition of top European businesses, trade unions and NGOs got together in an unprecedented gathering in Brussels to influence Heads of State and Ministers to act on the Paris Agreement and ensure that EU climate policies are coherent with its goals ahead of the 4 March Environment Council and the 17-18th March European Council .

After all the fanfare of Paris, not much has been going on. The EU should again take the leadership position and update our climate goals. The Chinese will surely do.

As a company we have seen how we could achieve a 98% carbon cuts with more than 50% efficiency gains and stay profitable. Why the EU as a whole could not?

We will hear the traditional business lobbies telling the old story again. Interface has proved their arguments wrong.

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Our yarn supplier Aquafil implements a symbiotic relationship with an Aquapark next door

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Our main supplier Aquafil has started a symbiotic project where their excess thermal energy in their Econyl plant in Slovenia is then used by an Aquapark nearby.

Regardless of how different the two businesses are, their location has permitted them to start an incredible project where the excess of thermal energy is transferred to Atlantis Aquapark to provide it’s 100% requirements of thermal energy.

This actually translates into an expected reduction of CO2 emissions on more than 2.000.000. This is the equivalent of 1100 cars driving 35km!

This is what happens when companies think differently and not selfishly. The great irony is that Aquafil uses excess warm water for their thermal needs from the electricity station nearby. Pass it on!

Read the full article here.

Atlantis & Aquafil

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Nudge Global Leadership Challenge 2015

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Below, Jens Christoph Parker (Interface’s company candidate) and I (Laura Cremer, Internal Communications & Sustainability Manager Europe at Interface) share our impressions and insights from the 2015 Nudge Global Leadership Challenge by means of a Q&A. The Nudge Global Leadership Challenge is a development programme and competition for young leaders in sustainability of the future and was held 20th to 22nd November 2015 in the vicinity of Amsterdam. International speakers shared latest insights in the fields of leadership and sustainability. We, as participants gained insight into our own talents and development areas by means of a development assessment, role-plays and case studies.


Group Picture - Nudge Global Leadership Challenge 2015

Group Picture – Nudge Global Leadership Challenge 2015 Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth


Q&A Laura & Jens

1) What did you thought when Jan Van Betten, founder of the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge, promised a life changing experience right at the beginning of the conference? Looking back do you think he was right? And if yes, what made the conference to a life-changing experience for you?

Jens: To be honest, everytime somebody promises to me something as big as a life-changing event there are two conflicting thoughts running through my head. On the one hand, I was extremly excitied and impressed by his confidence. On the other hand, I thought this is very bad expectition management. I hope he will be able to live up to his promise. Looking back I am happy to confirm: He did.

Laura: I have visited many conferences and usually there is always a person at the beginning who makes a big promise. So, nothing really new. This time this person was Jan Van Betten, Founder & CEO of Nudge. Well, I have to admit that the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge is not some kind of conference. Even if it sounds weird, there was a special atmosphere from the moment I entered the beautiful venue in Santpoort, about 30 km from Amsterdam and things felt different. It is hard to put into words what happened within the next few days. What I can confirm is that for me, yes, it was a life changing event. It is the mixture of meeting like-minded people from all over the world, being mentally challenged and getting to know yourself a bit better.

2) Looking back, is there an agenda item which influenced you the most? If there is one, why do you think that is the case?

Jens: At one point throughout the challenge we got thoughtfule advice from the kids of The Missing Chapter foundation, e.g. “If you are afraid you will never achieve anything” or “You  should admit that making mistakes is okay, because it can help to find new ideas”. I was truely amazed by the natural wisdom of these kids. It reminded me of the importance of intergenerational dialogue.

Laura: The agenda over the three days was packed and included lots of personal highlights. However, there was one agenda item which touched me the most. In the afternoon of day 1 we were asked to present our leadership ideas for a better sustainable future by means of a catwalk presentation. Although, a long exhausting day was behind us, I was impressed by the abundance of ideas as well as the energy and good spirits in the room. This exercise has shown me again a recalled that everyone of us can make a difference towards a sustainable future in the own scope of influence. Below you can find two pictures showing Jens and I during our catwalk presentation.


Jens' Nudge Catwalk Presentation Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth

Jens’ Nudge Catwalk Presentation
Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth


Laura's Nudge Catwalk Presentation Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth

Laura’s Nudge Catwalk Presentation
Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth

3) Throughout the weekend Interface has been mentioned as a good practice example concerning sustainablity. What did you think when that happened?

Laura: Well, I’m biased concerning this question, because I’m employed with Interface. It is part of my role in Interface sharing our sustainability story and experience in this field with external stakeholders. However, every single time it makes me proud coming across Interface in publications, hearing guest speakers like Marga Hoek, CEO Sustainable Business Association, Chairman Sustainable Science Association and author of the management book of the year 2014 ‘New Economy Business’ talking about Interface as a best-practice example during the challenge or listening to our President & CEO, Rob Boogaard sharing our story with my fellow Nudge participants over dinner. It think sharing what Interface has experienced on its journey towards becoming a sustainable enterprise is a huge impact we can have as a rather small company compared to Danone or eBay. For me it is still inspiring listening to what has happened in Interface when Ray Anderson decided to launch ‘Mission Zero’. I hope it felt the same for everyone else in the room.

Jens: I have to admit that I didn´t know Interface before applying for the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge. Throughout the entire experience I was amazed to learn how for Interface sustainability is not a lip service, but a core part of its corporate DNA. Every time Interface was mentioned once more as a good practice example, I was a little prouder to be one of its candidates.

4) Please share 3 good reasons why someone should participate/apply for the Nudgle Global Leadership Challenge 2016?

Jens: The Nudgle Global Leadership Challenge gives you the amazing opporunity to meet inspiring people from all over the world, learn more about your personal strengths and it gives you access to inspring spreakers which share their personal insights.

1) You will come across new information and stimuli away from day-to-day business practice.
2) You will get the chance to develop your personality and leadership skills.
3) You will have lots of new like-minded friends on every continent.

5) What was your key take away/what is resonating the most with you 4 weeks after the challenge?

Jens: I am still reflecting on all the amazing things that happened and there are many take aways from this amazing experience. My key take away is the fact that around the world people are taking on the challenge to lead the parth to a sustainable future and I want to be part of this exciting journey. In the next 6 months I want to bring to life my impact plan which I outlined for the challenge. I want to kick start an online community focusing on enabling the potential of sustainble investements.

Laura: I am also still digesting and processing what I have learned. My key take away is that I was reaffirmed that sustainability is the way to go. Within the coming 6 months I am looking forward putting my Sustainability Impact Plan into action, which I committed myself to work on during the challenge. My Sustainability Impact Plan encompasses showing that business can be a force for huge positive change.


Impressions Nudge Global Leadership Challenge 2015 Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth

Impressions Nudge Global Leadership Challenge 2015
Photo Credit: Visual Storyteller Bibi Veth

To close, we would like to thank the entire Nudge Team for unforgettable 3 days and a truly life-changing experience. Thank you Jan Van Betten, Ilse Lettinga, Andrea Steinwinter, Rick Koster and Yori Kamphuis from, Pepijn and Bibi Veth for the wonderful pictures. Click here to see the complete picture diary and to get inspired.

Laura Cremer & Jens Christoph Parker

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16 built environment companies commit to Zero carbon buildings

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Proud that Interface is there pushing again the rest of the industry, along 15 other companies that have taken a new energy efficiency commitment today for the buildings supply chain, to help drive delivery of ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ (nZEB) for new build by 2020, and refurbished buildings by 2030.

The pledge includes:

  • Driving down energy intensity across corporate property estates;
  • Committing to the 2020 goals of nZEB for new buildings and further action on renovation by 2030 as well as transparently reporting on progress against this;
  • Collaborating across the supply chain to set sector specific targets and goals; and
  • Continuing to engage with policymakers on policy, progress, reporting and performance towards zero energy goals.

Press release




Interface speaks at the European Commission energy meeting today

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Rob Boogaard

Earlier this year, Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission, started his “European Energy Tour” at the Interface manufacturing site in Scherpenzeel, The Netherlands. Mr. Šefčovič talked to the team about a number of European Commission priorities, one being the European Energy Union which has been formed to ensure Europe has secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. This Union champions wiser energy usage and drives growth and an investment in Europe’s future.

Today, Europe imports more than half of its energy making the EU the largest energy importer in the world and resulting in high energy prices for European industries and consumers. This has driven the Energy Union to champion the following:

1/Letting energy flow freely across borders – Establish a European Energy Union by connecting infrastructure enforcing legislation and increasing competition. This will help drive down costs for businesses and citizens and boost economic growth

2/Securing energy for all citizens – Work to prevent energy shortages, diversifying sources of energy imports and ensuring a united European voice as part of the negotiations to improve energy security

3/Energy-efficient products, jobs and skills for tomorrow – Help to mobilise additional investment in power grids, renewable-energy installations and other energy infrastructure

4/New energy technology – Improve energy efficiency, especially for buildings; with a binding target of 30% less energy use by 2030. Coordinate the Commission’s efforts to ensure the EU reaches its climate and energy targets for 2020 and 2030.

The “European Energy Tour” provided a number of discussion topics for the EU dignitaries and invited stakeholders to understand how the Union would support their environment.

Maros Sefcovic and Rob Boogaard

During his visit with Interface in Scherpenzeel, Mr. Šefčovič saw first hand  that ambitious energy reductions and renewable energy solutions are within reach, asserting Interface’s sustainability leadership in manufacturing and its progress towards ‘Mission Zero’.


The European Energy Tour just finished a few weeks ago and the content collected has helped to inform the first State of the Energy Union report, which is launched, today, November 18th, in Brussels. It  maps the progress achieved and outlines where a political push is needed for 2016.

We are very pleased to learn that Mr. Šefčovič considers his visit to Interface as one of the highlights of his European Energy Tour. As a result, our EMEA CEO Rob Boogaard has been invited to:

1/ take part in the European Commission video that will be used to communicate the State of the Energy Union report

2/ participate in the panel discussion today, 18th November, in Brussels, as a member of the Prince of Wales’ EU Corporate Leaders Group in support of the launch of the Energy Union report.

Having reduced its carbon footprint with more than 90% and running its European operations with more than 95% renewable energy, Interface is pleased to help articulate that ambitious sustainability targets are not only possible; they pay off.  As such, Interface fully supports projects, such as the EU Energy Union project, that quickly bring us closer to a thriving low carbon economy

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RSPB puts the final nail on the voluntary crap

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The RSPB has released a report researching that voluntary environmental schemes have performed very poorly. Donal McCarthy, who led the research, the largest assessment on this topic, found several findings including the following:

– Voluntary approaches, which were liked by the administrations because they are cheaper to manage, are not performing. 80% of them did perform poorly on one indicator or more.

– The majority of schemes had unambitious targets or failed to deliver.

– Many had low rate of private sector participation.

I’ve been arguing for a long time that the main solution is old school legislation (but done in a smarter way), focus on legislating at product level and play with tax and incentives.

Let’s end the voluntary crap now. David Cameron said once ‘cut the environmental crap’. The only thing that is crappy in the environmental movement is the belief that with voluntary action we will achieve progress.