I realized that to get to an economy that restores, the United States requires companies that restore. And I went looking for such companies.
An interview in Sustainable Industries magazine led me to Interface, a company that makes modular carpet, or carpet tiles. In the mid-1990s its CEO, Ray Anderson, decided to eliminate the company’s negative environmental impacts by 2020.
The section on Sustainability in Action on Interface’s website has loads of information. One tidbit I liked: Interface products will be accompanied by Environmental Product Declarations, which are similar to the nutrition labeling provided for packaged food at the grocery store: “an EPD shows the ingredients of products and the associated environmental impacts.”
Another favorite section from the website: Closing the Loop, about Interface carpets made from recycled carpet fiber.
Through a process called ReEntry® 2.0, clean, post-consumer Nylon 6,6 fiber is returned to Interface’s fiber supplier where it, in combination with some virgin materials, is recycled into new Nylon 6,6 for use in new carpet fiber. At the same time, the post-consumer vinyl carpet backing is recycled into new backing using Interface’s Cool Blue™ backing technology. Plastics that cannot be used for Interface processes or products are distributed to other industry suppliers for re-use in their material streams.
I’m passionate about recycling, and I absolutely love it when companies find ways to reuse the very materials they are selling.
So is Interface a restoration company? In the interview in Sustainable Industries (July 2009), Anderson talks of Interface being a restorative company. All its efforts toward sustainability are wonderful, and its actions may have prevented some development for extractive purposes, but I don’t think it is doing restoration in the sense I envision it.
That being said, I wish every company in the United States would adopt Interface’s model.