Carpet manufacturer Interface has uncovered a new way to mitigate the negative impact of carpet production — a process that traditionally relies on petroleum-based fibers and adhesives and chemical dyes. Putting its Climate Take Back mission into action, the company has developed Proof Positive, a first-of-its-kind carbon negative carpet tile.
Plants pull carbon out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis while they are alive, but release it when they decompose. Interface has taken plant-derived carbon and converted it into a durable material that stores that carbon for at least a generation. The carbon is stored in the materials comprising the Proof Positive tile.
At end of life, the materials in the tiles can be recycled through Interface’s ReEntry carpet reclamation program and reused as feedstock for new carpet tiles, ensuring that the carbon stays in a closed technical loop, rather than being released into the atmosphere.
“We created this Proof Positive tile to inspire our customers, our industry, and the world to think more broadly about taking on the climate challenge in a new way — to find innovative solutions that will not only reduce, but ultimately reverse global warming,” said Chad Scales, Chief Innovation, Marketing and Design Officer at Interface.
“At Interface, we can see a not-so-distant future in which architects, designers and businesses collaborate to create spaces with climate change in mind, by choosing materials that will reverse global warming. This Proof Positive tile is an important step in our Climate Take Back mission as we look at climate change as an opportunity, not a problem.”
Proof Positive builds on Interface’s Climate Take Back mission to reverse climate change by only using what can be replaced, viewing carbon as a resource, running the business in a way that doesn’t interfere with the biosphere’s ability to cool itself, and transitioning to a business model based on a waste-make-retake approach. The prototype tile has a negative carbon footprint, which was achieved directly through interventions at the design and manufacturing levels, without the purchase of carbon offsets.
Since 1996, Interface has reduced its cradle-to-gate product carbon emissions from an average of 20 kilograms of carbon per square meter to just over 7 kilograms per square meter in 2016. Though only a prototype at this stage, at less than -2 kilograms of carbon per square meter, Interface’s concept tile proves that it is possible to store carbon in products rather than emit more carbon into the atmosphere in the process of making those products. Should this approach to manufacturing become mainstream, it could become a critical solution to reversing global warming over the long term.
“This prototype builds upon the 20 years of work we’ve put into creating closed-loop design and manufacturing processes,” said John Bradford, Chief Science and Technical Officer at Interface. “This is an exciting milestone as we endeavor to commercialize ways to store carbon in the products we make, giving our customers the opportunity to choose materials with the potential to reverse global warming.”