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Interface: Net-Works

Antonie Glaser, Marketing Manager Central & Eastern Europe

What was your motivation?
Following our company’s founder Ray Anderson’s principle „There has to be a better way“, we are constantly working on optimizing our business processes and searching for new ways of organizing our business model sustainable.
In this case, we analysed the possibilities of alternative raw material and came across fishing nets that are made out of the same material as our carpet tiles. Instead of buying raw material, we were looking for a more sustainable way; more sustainable in any dimension: for the environment, but especially for humans.
In poor Philippines coastal villages in and around Danajon Bank where marine life and reefs are endangered, fishermen gather and bundle discarded nylon nets consisting of polyamid yarn, which would otherwise last for 600 years, for shipment to yarn supplier Aquafil, which developed nylon recycling technology.

How did you come on this idea?
The Net-Works programme in partnership with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and is an innovative, cross-sector initiative designed to tackle the growing environmental problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities. The goal of our project partnership is to create a supply chain for discarded fishing nets based on local communities. Thus, the local population will profit directly from the program by generating a new source of income in a region dependant on a monocultural fishing industry. In addition, the established supply chain also works the other way round. After the destroying typhoon „Haiyan“ at the beginning of November 2013, the Net-Works-infrastructure enabled a fast and efficient transportation of relief items. The revenues of the fishing net sales increased, which proves the sustainability approach of the program for the local community, as well.
Following its success in rural coastal areas of the Philippines (including the Bantayan Islands and Danajon Bank), the initiative is now rolling out to the Lake Ossa region of Cameroon in 2015.

Which time period passed between idea and conversion?
The genesis of Net-Works started 10 years ago - as that's when our supplier Aquafil first pioneered the technology necessary to regenerate nylon yarn in their Econyl Regeneration System, without which, Net-Works would not be possible.
However, the actually planning and building stages took less time. It took 1,5 years to get the pilot off the ground, and we have been collecting for two years now.

How many years is there your enterprise already?
Established in 1973 Interface is a worldwide leader in the design and production of carpet tiles.  Its products combine beauty and innovation with functionality and environmental credentials to help customers bring their design vision to life.

What is your personal aim?
My personal goal is to work on a healthy future for our planet. Within the realm of my possibilities, I aim for leaving the planet in a better condition than it used to be.

Where do you see your enterprise in three years?
The process of creating an all-embracing sustainable company will endure at least for the next three years. Us, the employees of Interface, are always comparing our mission zero metaphorically with climbing a mountain that is higher than the Mount Everest. Therefore, in 2018 we will still be working on our „Mission Zero“, which definded goal is transfering Interface into an entirely sustainable company by 2020.