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Best Practices voor een duurzame toekomst
08 maart 2008

InterfaceFLOR: socially responsible carpet tiling

According to the company there are almost three billion people around the world living on less than the equivalent of 2 dollar each per day, “while many traditional craft skills, and the culture surrounding them, are being lost. What’s more, modern production methods - especially those used to mass-produce goods - can be hugely detrimental to the environment.” The company wants to harness the skills of the local artisans and work with them “to develop products in the fairest way possible”.

Speaking to internet publication Point, Karin Laljani explains that the idea was first conceived in late 2004. InterfaceFLOR was “completely committed to sustainability, but if you looked hard the commitment was not reflected in the way we operated. For example we had nothing in marketing. We could spell the word ‘sustainability’ and communicate about it but we didn’t feel it and it wasn’t part of what we did. That was my first challenge – getting the marketing teams to realise it was about how we worked, how we assessed suppliers, how we printed, how we advertised. Everything.”

Many competitors seemed to have adopted InterFLOR’s methods, says Laljani. But the focus was “very narrow”: it was on recycling. “So the great opportunity was to define a holistic approach, to demonstrate that sustainability should be at the heart of a company. If you can’t demonstrate your sustainability values through your products and services then it’s a pretty hollow marketing proposition.”

One of the outcomes of this process was FairWorks. This is a social deepening of its environmental commitment to completely eliminate the negative impact the company has on the environment by 2020, known as Mission Zero. FairWorks has a global outlook. This means continuing to explore how to use materials, craft skills and techniques from all around the world - and experimenting with sustainable materials not previously considered for conventional products.

It is InterfaceFLOR’s intention to create and produce unique and innovative products in a way that is as environmentally and socially responsible as possible. This is underpinned by three commitments: One: wherever possible, InterfaceFLOR will use natural or recycled raw materials that are found as near as possible to where the products are made. Two: InterfaceFLOR will draw on the traditional handicraft skills of the local artisans, fusing traditional techniques with contemporary practices. Three: InterfaceFLOR will increase earning opportunities for local communities. To achieve this, the company will work closely with local organisations and NGOs.

P+ webtip: InterfaceFLOR

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