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Posts by Ramon Arratia

Sustainability without the Fluff – Event Invitation

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Ramón Arratia invites you to the Event: Sustainability Without the Fluff

Monday August 1st from 12:30 to 2 pm at our Showroom in London. (lunch at 1230, discussion starts at 1pm sharp)

Join the discussion on:

* How to embed sustainability into your company

* Why a business case is more interesting when it goes beyond reputation, brand and internal engagement

* How to achieve higher margins, expand to adjacent markets and set barriers to entry

* Why product redesign can have a positive impact on the environment

* Different ways to extract value from sustainability

* How achieving a 98% carbon reduction is possible

* The circular economy in practice: what works and what is fluff.

RSVP: | 020 7490 3960

Ramon Arratia_05

Ramon Arratia is a sustainability director with 17 years of practical experience in corporate positions at multinational companies such as Interface, Vodafone and Ericsson. He was named by The Guardian newspaper as one of the world’s top sustainable business tweeters. He is a strong advocate of product sustainability through his popular blog (interfacecutthefluff) and gives 50 speeches a year on the subject. He campaigns for stronger and more efficient European regulation based on product standards, for revisiting corporate sustainability reporting and for many years he led the ‘Cut the Fluff’ campaign against labels, certificates, partial truths, marketing claims and all the components of the old sustainability beauty contest.

Ramon has an MBA from Warwick Business School, a MSC in Quality and Environment from Spain and a degree in chemistry. This mixture of business and technical education has given him a privileged perspective to understand both the geeks (LCA practitioners, academics, engineers) and the geezers (marketing, PR, sales, sustainability consultants).

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Interface Global reduces its own GHG emissions by 92% (98% in Europe)

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I am very proud to present the following numbers:

At Interface Global we have reduced our own GHG emissions by 92% (98% in Europe) by a combination of halving our energy use (45% globally, 54% in Europe) and then using renewable electricity and renewable gas. Today getting to 100% renewable electricity is possible, access to biogas a bit more challenging but all serious companies should aim at 100% green energy. That’s why we have joined the RE 100. Yes, they don’t focus on gas yet but there are an increasing number of companies switching to 100% renewable electricity.

One of the indicators Im very fond of is achieving 50% of all our raw materials from recycled and bio sources. This includes making yarn from discarded fishing nets ormaking latex from recycled PVB from car windscreens. For every raw material there is an alternative which is recycled or low impact biobased. Our goal is to scavenge waste foremother industries and treat it as food for our products. We are now investing in flexile manufacturing, that is lines that are flexible enough to handle different recycled or bio sources. We hope we can get much closer to 100% by 2020. A big challenge.

That brings me to the idea of taking ownership of the embodied carbon from our products. Companies should not only decrease their own emissions but also decrease the emissions of their products’ carbon. In our case, it’s mostly embodied carbon from all the supply chain processes. In only 7 years, we have been able to decrease that entire chain embodied carbon by 31% globally (39% in Europe). Product design is the key in doing this. The same you can design a car so that it’s more efficient in the use phase, you can design a kg of cement or a m2 of carpet so that it’s more embodied carbon efficient.

2015 Global EcoMetrics Highlights

  • GHG emissions per unit of production is down 92 % since 1996
  • Energy use per unit of production is down 45 % since 1996
  • Renewable energy is 84 % of total energy use at manufacturing sites
  • Recycled and biobased materials now make up 50 % of total raw materials use
  • Water intake per unit of production is down 87 % since 1996
  • GHG emissions of entire supply chain and own production of our carpet is down 31 % on average since 2008

2015 European EcoMetrics Highlights

  • GHG emissions per unit of production is down 98 % since 1996
  • Energy use per unit of production is down 54 % since 1996
  • Renewable energy is 95 % of total energy use at manufacturing sites
  • Recycled and biobased materials now make up 50 % of total raw materials use
  • Water intake per unit of production is down 98 % since 1996 
  • No waste to landfill
  • GHG emissions of entire supply chain and own production of our carpet is down 39 % on average since 2008

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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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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




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.