Excerpt from Care2: Ray Anderson, an icon in the movement to make business more ethical and environmentally friendly, died of cancer on Monday at the age of 77. The quintessential industrialist, Anderson underwent a complete change of heart and became an evangelist for the sustainable business. In 1973 at the age of 38 he started Interface,which manufactures carpet tile, a highly petroleum-dependent product. He admits to not giving a thought to environmental concerns until the mid 1990s, when customers started asking questions about Interface’s products and their environmental impact. As chairman, Anderson was asked to share his vision for the environment and the place of his company in it.
But he found inspiration and learned to make changes. From that moment in 1994, Anderson began leading his company to a goal of becoming zero waste by 2020. Interface’s sustainability efforts focus on the company’s footprint, its products and its culture. Success has come in many forms, including:
- 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 1996;
- 30% of energy from renewable sources, with a goal of 100% by 2020; and
- 76% reduction in waste going to landfills since 1996.