Launch Slideshow

Inside Interface

Inside Interface

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    Wanda Lau

    In the Ray C. Anderson Plant in West Point, Ga., Interface’s patented system of portable creels releases yarn from cones at the precise tension needed to tuft the carpet.

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    Cones with excess yarn from the tufting process are marked for reclamation.

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    The excess yarn is sorted by color and unraveled as part of the reclamation process. The fiber will be re-melted, pelletized, blended, and then re-extruded back into fiber. According to Interface, this process uses half of the embodied energy that would otherwise be required to create new fiber from raw materials from the earth.

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    Wanda Lau

    Yarn cones are sorted and reused.

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    At ReEntry 2.0, Interface turns post-consumer carpet—broadloom and modular tiles—into reusable raw material. ReEntry receives thousands of pounds of carpet daily and nearly a million carpet tiles monthly. Since 1994, Interface has reclaimed more than 250 million pounds of carpet from landfills.

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    Each tile is identified by its composition—nylon 6, nylon 6,6, or other polymers, all of which have different melting points—and sorted into different reclamation streams. Interface processes between 40,000 and 50,000 pounds of carpet tiles, and between 25,000 and 35,000 pounds of broadloom carpet, daily.

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    A machine separates the tile’s fiber from its backing, which is conveyed into a grinder and broken down into its base components of fiberglass, latex, and vinyl.

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    Machines separate and gather the post-consumer carpet fibers from its backing.

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    The separated fibers or fluff are compacted from a starting height of 20 feet into bales weighing about 650 pounds each. The bales are sent to Interface’s fiber partners where they will be unpacked and melted into pelletized nylon for use as post-consumer content 6,6 or 6 nylon.

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    The shredded reclaimed carpet backing will be loaded into an agglometer machine and melted into pellets to make Interface’s reclaimed PVC backing. The white bags that transport the shredded backing will also be reused.

After reading The Ecology of Commerce in 1994, Ray C. Anderson, the late founder of carpet tile manufacturer Interface, experienced his now famous environmental epiphany that companies can “do well by doing good.” He challenged his company to “take from the earth only what can be renewed by the earth naturally and rapidly, and to do no harm to the biosphere.” That year, Interface launched ReEntry, a carpet reclamation program that set Interface on its journey toward its ultimate target of Mission Zero: zero oil, zero emissions, and zero waste by 2020.

In the Ray C. Anderson plant in West Point, Ga., about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta, Interface’s reclamation practices are evident from the moment that carpet begins to take shape from raw materials. The tufting process uses yarn that may comprise a minimum of 25 percent post-consumer yarn content, and up to 100 percent of combined post-consumer and post-industrial materials. Nearby in LaGrange, Ga., the ReEntry 2.0 facility enables Interface to recycle type 6,6 nylon, type 6 nylon, and the backing materials from broadloom and modular tiles from nearly any carpet manufacturer. ARCHITECT recently visited Interface to see its innovative production and reclamation processes in action.