Interface has been a leading innovator in the carpet industry, specializing in the manufacturing of carpet tiles for commercial flooring. This case describes the history, context, and technology behind the company’s development of its newest sustainable innovation—carbon negative carpet tiles. Interface began pursuing a path of bold sustainable initiatives in 1994 when Founder and CEO Ray Anderson, confronted by an employee, had a realization of the company’s negative environmental impact. The company then began moving toward a carbon neutral future, through carpet recycling and leasing programs, transparent emissions reporting and new carbon storing materials.
This case uses Interface’s story to: explore the context and motivations for companies pursuing environmental goals such as carbon negativity; present the transparency and reporting dynamics within the realm of carbon accounting; and contemplate the stakeholder dynamics created by these decisions. The primary dilemma is whether Interface made the correct decision in launching its carbon negative carpet tiles, given these different factors.