Executive Site Visit丨Interface Factory Tour “Closing the Loop on Waste”

On July 10th 2019, to get a closer look at how a circular economy might look like in manufacturing industry, we organized a tour to the Interface Factory in Taicang (China) to observe their closed-loop manufacturing process.

UB Qiu, the sustainable Lead of North Asia from Interface gave a remarkable presentation about Interface’s journey of moving business beyond usual and later guided the tour in the plant.  Representatives from Zero Waste Shanghai, Renew Material, Drees & Sommer and Novalis Innovative Flooring participated and engaged in discussion.

 “Mission Zero”

UB started the presentation by sharing Interface’s sustainable strategy. The sustainable journey dated back to 1994 and Interface has been the one of the major players of corporate sustainability ever since. After recognizing the environmental impact of their flooring products could mainly be traced back to the raw materials, Interface started the “Mission Zero” program and committed to “eliminate any negative impact” they may have by 2020.

As of today, Interface has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 96% and use 100% renewable energy at all its facilities.

“Turning Trash into Treasure”

Net-Works, is one of the signature and well-known community programs that Interface introduced and implemented in the South Asia region. Interface purchases discarded fishing nets from artisanal fishing communities and turns them into material for making carpet. With this approach, Interface manages to bring social benefits to local communities by empowering local villagers while cleaning up waste in the ocean at the same time.

“If humanity changed the climate by mistake, we can change it with intent.”

UB Qiu also introduced Climate Take Back, the new initiative introduced at Interface. As a step forward after the Mission Zero program, Interface now aims for a bigger goal which is to go from having no negative impact to having positive impact on the earth. With such, the conventional idea was shifted, which allows us to embrace a new paradigm that treats carbon as a resource.

Interface not only demonstrates the concept of sustainability inside of the company but also tries to influence other stakeholders involved, from suppliers to consumers, in order to support sustainability and lead the industrial revolution in a responsible manner.

An insider’s look at the factory

After the presentation, we had a tour inside the factory guided by UB Qiu and other plant personnel. Our host walked us through different manufacturing departments in this LEED Platinum certified plant, which was built by using reclaimed stone to reduce the need for new materials.

Participants were privileged to have an exclusive experience and witnessed the production process of a box of carpet tiles from textile machines to assembly lines.

In the sample room, participants had the chance to learn more about how Interface incorporates sustainability into the stage of interior design by taking inspiration from nature.

Throughout the tour, all participants showed strong interests in Interface’s sustainable approach and raised various questions during the Q&A. Topics include the level of customer’s acceptance of recycled products and strategic approach for promoting sustainable products as corporates. Participants all shared their own sustainable business practices from different perspectives.

The first of 2019 events, we look forward to organizing more of such visits throughout the year.

To learn more about the site visit event, please feel free to send email to [email protected]


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