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Posts tagged 'Mission Zero'

The Mission Zero Green Highway

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Mission Zero Corridor ProjectIs it possible to have a ‘green highway’? The #MissionZero Corridor Project in West Georgia believes that it is.

It has appointed breakthrough innovation consultancy Innovia Technology to help create a ‘travel corridor’ and rethink the purpose and function of this infrastructure to generate social, environmental and economic value. Alastair MacGregor, CEO of Innovia Technology, is excited by the challenge, which will see the company evaluate the technologies identified by the project, for example: algae biodiesel gas stations; smart solar-powered roads; moon-cycle adjusting lights; wildlife bridges; driverless cars; electric-car charging lanes and cultural greenways. MacGregor says: “Worldwide the highway infrastructure is continuously maintained, rebuilt and expanded at considerable economic and environmental cost.

The Mission Zero Corridor Project is proposing an alternative future where highways have a positive impact on our communities. It’s very exciting to be involved in making this vision a reality.” The Mission Zero Corridor Project aims to be a fitting legacy for the late Ray C Anderson, “the greenest CEO” and founder of Interface Inc., the largest global manufacturer of modular carpet. Back in 1994 Ray read the book ‘The Ecology of Commerce’ and it transformed his outlook on business and the environment. With his company’s global reach and manufacturing footprint, he realised he was in a position to do something very real and important towards building a more sustainable world. Ray developed the Mission Zero framework to eliminate Interface’s environmental impact while maintaining productivity and still turning a profit. The aim was a promise to “eliminate any negative impacts the company may have on the environment by 2020” and the framework created a blueprint for business sustainability.

Proposed plan for Exit 14 of the Ray C Anderson Memorial Highway

 

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Closing the loop – #MissionZero

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Closing the loop

In 1994 we started Mission Zero®, our commitment to eliminate our negative impact on the environment by 2020. Along with increasing efficiency, design innovation and recycling efforts, we are constantly looking to replace virgin raw materials as one way to close the loop around our products and cut our dependency on oil.

Download the full pdf here.

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The Environmental Footprint Of Carpet Tile

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Commissioned by Interface to celebrate our Mission Zero anniversary, John Elkington has written a case study titled – ‘Interface: The untold story of Mission Zero in Europe’, which charts our journey over the past 20 years highlighting the systems changes we have brought into the core of our business. Here is an excerpt that looks at the footprint of carpet tile. You can download the full study here.

“Interestingly, in a pattern seen with many other industrial products, LCA research reveals that the environmental footprint of carpeting is disproportionately concentrated at the point where basic raw materials are extracted and processed. It is estimated that 68% of the total impact is created at the raw materials stage, with 17% produced during the stages that Interface has direct control over (with manufacturing accounting for 9%, transportation for 8%), a further 8% during use and maintenance, and 7% at the end of the carpet’s life, critically including disposal.

When it comes to the environmental impact of Interface products, the image below illustrates how particular materials have significantly greater footprints than others. The nylon yarn that forms the walkable surface of a carpet turns out to have around four times more impact than the backing material, according to Connie Hensler, Interface’s Global LCA Director. The analysis assumes a product life of 10 years, although many factors can impact that life expectancy. Ultimately, the design, use and final fate of carpeting products reflects the prevailing market paradigm, a subject we turn to next.

At the waste disposal end, to give some sense of the rate of carpet recycling, in the U.K. 85,000 tonnes of carpet were diverted from landfill in 2012. This represented an increase in diversion from 16.5% in 2011 to 21.4% in 2012. Of this volume, 36,000 tonnes were recycled or reused, with 49,000 tonnes used for energy recovery. Clearly, again, there is an enormous gap still to be bridged. More positively, in California, where an estimated 400 million pounds of carpet are disposed of each year in the State’s landfills alone it recently passed a law to recycle 75% of waste by 2020. And as of July 1, 2011, California law AB2398 requires a 5-cent “carpet stewardship assessment” on every square yard of carpet sold. The pressure may be building slowly, but the sense at Interface is that it is all headed broadly in the same direction, of tightening controls.”

Carpe Tile Footprint

Excerpt from: INTERFACE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MISSION ZERO IN EUROPE, BY JOHN ELKINGTON.

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Our Progress Towards Zero Impact

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“True, carpeting is not as sexy as, say, electric cars, Big Data or space travel. But, we were assured, there is plenty of excitement to be had for those who decide to push from the ‘Old’ order to the ‘New’.”

Here is an excerpt from the case study written by John Elkington titled ‘Interface, the untold story of Mission Zero in Europe‘. In this piece he details some of the challenges, and visualises real progress made towards Mission Zero.

Interface Europe - Mission towards zero

“… a critical task has been to find and develop a suitable business case, both for internal and external use.

“The business case is a possible show-stopper,” admitted Ton van Keken, Senior Vice-President for Operations. But the company has often pushed well beyond the business case. Indeed, that has been a key part of the drive that resulted in the three recent zero-based announcements.

Asked why they did this, we were told that the business case took Interface much of the way, but where there were gaps to be bridged, “we did it for Ray.” When we interviewed senior Interface executives, it became clear that they see at least four areas where the business case is now much stronger than it was when Anderson kick-started the process. Rarely have we encountered a company where the ambitions have been set so high and so consistently.

There was no doubting the level of commitment we found. “In all areas of its activity People, Profit, Planet, Product and Process, Interface has seen excellent improvements since embarking on Mission Zero,” said Ton van Keken, Senior Vice-President for Operations. “I’m hoping to continue this trend, so that in 2020 our mission to have no negative impact on the environment will be accomplished.”Over and again, the mood was upbeat. “The word ‘impossible’ is no longer attached to Mission Zero,” said Richard ter Steege, Controller of the European division. But we were also reminded of the gap between where we need to be and where the European carpet industry currently finds itself.

Interface Europe, for example, has the capacity to recycle approximately 600,000 square metres of carpet a year compared with the 10–11 million square meters produced by Interface Europe and the 450 million square meters produced across the region annually. Clearly, there remains a vast gap between the aspiration and the reality. One key to closing that gap will be wider transparency across the sector. “If you’re the only one disclosing,” explained Rob Boogaard, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, EMEA, “customers don’t have much to compare you with.”

Interface is first to publish Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), committing in 2010 to publish EPDs for all their products by 2012. Now there are more than 700 EPDs for Germany, with growing number of countries joining in. Luckily, there is a push for European harmonization, so EPDs done in one country are standard and can be used in another country. We have also been developing a standardisation agreement between Europe and the USA.

And what about the longer term vision? “Interface wants to be ‘off-oil’,” explained Rob Boogaard, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, EMEA. But the key thing to remember across all of this, noted Nigel Stansfield, Vice-President & Chief Innovation Officer, is that breakthrough innovation “is not just ideas. It is something that has to be commercialized, something that has value that the customer is willing to pay for.”

Download the full case study here.

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The 7 fronts of ‘mount sustainability’

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An excerpt from the publication – Interface the Untold Story of Mission Zero in Europe which details our sustainability journey:

As noted, Interface’s approach is built around the notion of Mount Sustainability, a towering challenge with seven fronts to be scaled. So how were the seven fronts identified?

“They were created from a combination of frameworks that had been developed by some of Ray’s most influential sustainability advisers,” explained Buddy Hay, Assistant Vice-President, Sustainability Strategies, “a group he often referred to as the ‘Eco Dream Team.’ This included Karl-Henrik Robèrt of the Natural Step, Paul Hawken with his focus on the redesign of commerce, and Janine Benyus with her extrapolation of biomimicry to set out the conducive conditions for life.”

By the time of his death, in 2011, Ray Anderson estimated that Interface had travelled 60% of the way to the top of Mount Sustainability, but he warned, “there’s tough terrain still ahead.”

Mount Sustainability

The Seven Fronts are:

1 Eliminate Waste Remove all forms of waste in every area of business.

2 Zero Problem Emissions Eliminate toxic substances from products, vehicles and facilities.

3 Switch to Renewable Energy Operate facilities with renewable energy sources: solar, wind, landfill gas, biomass, geothermal, tidal, low-impact/small-scale hydro or non-petroleum based hydrogen.

4 Close the Loop Redesign processes and products to close the technical loop using recovered and bio- based materials.

5 Use Resource-Efficient Transportation Move people and products efficiently to reduce waste and emissions.

6 Sensitize Stakeholders Help build a culture that integrates sustainability principles and improves people’s lives and livelihoods.

7 Redesign Commerce Create a new business model that demonstrates and supports the value of sustainability-based commerce.

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Interface – the Untold Story of Mission Zero in Europe

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Mission Zero John Elkington BookJohn Elkington, a global authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development, has authored a case study entitled ‘Interface the Untold Story of Mission Zero in Europe’. Commissioned by us to celebrate our Mission Zero anniversary, he charts the Interface journey over the past 20 years highlighting the systems changes we have engineered into the core of our business.

 “We were very excited to get this level of access to senior executives at Interface,” says John Elkington. “And we conclude that, twenty years into Mission Zero, Interface is well positioned to break through in a number of critical areas—including climate change, water and waste.”

The case study is available for download and I’ll publish excerpts here on Cut The Fluff. This section highlights some of the sustainability leaders across multiple industries, and where we fit in the broader picture.

“To get a better sense of the significance of recent achievements, it helps to know a bit about the history of Interface and about the nature and scale of its current operations.

The story of what would become Interface, Inc. began in 1973, when founder Ray Anderson recognized the need for flexible floorcoverings for the modern office environment. He led a joint venture between Carpets International Plc. (CI), a British company, and a group of American investors to produce and market modular soft-surfaced floorcoverings.

Aside from Anderson, always a larger-than-life figure, the other main actor in the story was the apparently unexciting carpet tile. This had been invented in the 1950s at what is now the Interface factory in Scherpenzeel, the Netherlands. Anderson came across this innovation and promptly adopted the tile concept as the core of what Interface would do. In the process, he helped disrupt the traditional broadloom carpet market, particularly in the office sector.

Vital Statistics

On its first day of operation, CI had just 15 employees, including Anderson. And it faced significant challenges from sharply rising petrochemical costs, since most raw material in the carpet industry come from oil. Happily, its use of advanced cutting and bonding technology sustained the company, enabling it to meet the needs of the office-building boom of the mid-1970s. Modular carpet tiles grew in popularity and by 1978 Interface sales had reached US$11 million. The company went public in 1983.

In 1987, Interface acquired Heuga Holdings BV, based in Scherpenzeel. This company had pioneered the carpet tile. Interface had already some sales offices and manufacturing operations in the UK, Canada and the United States but acquisition made Interface become an increasingly global company.

We have tracked Interface for quite some years. Their reputation in the sustainability community has been fairly consistent—as shown in Figure 2, based on GlobeScan’s polling of experts in the fields of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability.”

Many thanks to John Elkington and Volans. John can be found on Twitter @volansjohn 

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2020 – An important #sustainability milestone

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20202020 is going to be a busy year.

In the year 2020 we will see many initiatives, events and milestones reached, and it’s only 6 years off.

London’s Crossrail is scheduled to be in full service by 2020, the Summer Olympics will be kicking off in Japan, and Toyota says that all cars it will produce will be hybrid.

Other initiatives include the IFPRI Food Security visionGM have pledged to use 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, and let’s not forget the 5 targets that the EU have set around – Employment, innovation, climate change/energy, education and poverty. The book Shift lists its vision for technology in 2020 which is also an interesting read.

For us, it will also be a huge year. The culmination of 26 year’s work on Mission Zero, which is our promise to eliminate any negative impact our company may have on the environment by the year 2020. Interface is on a mission to protect, restore, innovate and educate. We’ve broken our mission into 7 steps to help us on our journey toward zero:

1 Zero Waste
2 Benign Emissions
3 Renewable Energy
4 Closing The Loop
5 Resource-Efficient Transportation
6 Sensitivity Hookup
7 Redesign Commerce

In the run up to our 20 year anniversary this month I will post more detail around Mission Zero, the challenges and results to date.

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