Speaking at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco late last week, Interface’s chief executive Jay Gould revealed that the company had achieved the flagship target of its 2020 Mission Zero initiative to have no negative environmental impact, spurring it to set an even more ambitious emissions aim.

The new aim will apply to Interface’s supply chain as well as its direct operations, with the company claiming that it will “innovate” its approach to emissions across its raw material sourcing, supply chains and direct operations in order to remove more carbon from the environment than it generates.

Speaking to an audience of hundreds at the Summit, Gould said: “I believe that our work is proof that zero is possible. If Interface can do it, any company can do it, and if any company can do it, every company should do it. Zero is not only possible but also profitable.

“But zero is not enough. What Ray (Anderson, Interface founder) helped us to recognise is that our commitments and our ambitions must be bold, and that we have to go beyond zero. We are committed to take back our climate and to transform our business once again.”

Detailing how Interface would achieve the new ambition, Gould said the firm would invest in the research and development of factories that sequester more carbon than they emit, while expanding its range of carbon-negative products. The company notably unveiled of its first carbon-negative carpet tile prototype in 2017.

The announcement was welcomed by European Climate Foundation chief executive Laurence Tubiana, who hailed Interface as a “leader” of the low-carbon economy.

“For years, many companies have been pursuing carbon neutrality as a matter of responsible governance,” Tubiana said.

“But now, leading companies are thinking much more ambitiously and pushing the boat out to completely drive emissions out of their operations, including through the purchase of clean power. Some companies are even pushing beyond carbon neutrality towards net-negative emissions.”

Climate take back

The new ambition marks an important step in Interface’s Climate Take Back mission. The successor to the company’s Mission Zero sustainability initiative, Climate Take Back vows to “bring carbon home and reverse climate change”.

Since 1996, Interface has reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 96% and slashed the cradle-to-gate carbon emissions from products by almost two-thirds (60%). Earlier this year, the firm announced that it would only offer carbon-neutral products as standard to buyers, after its entire product range achieved Carbon Neutral Floors certification.

Outside of its own operations, Interface continues to urge other corporations to follow suit and set equally ambitious climate goals.

Interface’s chief sustainability officer Erin Meezan previously told edie that she did not believe that one company has the means to reverse climate change alone – but explained that the firm’s lofty carbon ambitions were fashioned to create a collaborative green push within the private sector that goes beyond traditional carbon reductions.

Similarly, Interface hopes the move to carbon-neutral products will drive other manufacturers to consider the role of embodied carbon in their ranges.

Sarah George

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