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Mohawk seeks to raise the bar on sustainability

April 24/May 1, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 23

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 10.08.24 AMCalhoun, Ga.—Mohawk Industries recently released its 2016 Sustainability Report, a 36-page document that paints a comprehensive picture of the company’s innovation, passion and commitment to a better tomorrow while illustrating its role as a leader in sustainable technology.

In 2016 alone, process improvements, product re-engineering and equipment upgrades positively impacted Mohawk’s productivity by $140 million. The depth of these savings reflects hundreds of unique projects across the enterprise, most of which deliver environmental benefits. These range from state-of-the-art equipment that’s less energy intensive to improved freight logistics that reduce carbon emissions to paperless sales and administrative processes that save time and eliminate waste.

“In 2016, our company enjoyed a record year, but our financial results are only one measure of our success,” said Jeff Lorberbaum, Mohawk’s chairman and CEO. “Today, as the world’s largest flooring company, we also assess our performance by the significant and positive impact we make through all aspects of our business. Our sustainability practices reflect the commitment of our company and the passion of our people. We continue to push the boundaries of sustainability with innovative new products and processes because we believe in—and are willing to invest in—a better tomorrow.”

The report notes Mohawk’s progress in corporate responsibility and sustainability. In summary, the company:

  • Recycles 7.1 billion pounds of waste a year.
  • Has reduced its use of water by 277 million gallons since 2015.
  • Since 2010, has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity by 12.8%, its energy intensity by 1.9% and its water intensity by 35%.
  • Recycles 5.4 billion plastic bottles annually.
  • Recycles 25 million pounds of tires into doormats.

Many of Mohawk’s achievements in sustainability come from the company’s continuous journey to decrease the environmental footprint of its products and operations. For example, the report details an environmentally friendly approach to cooling water at Mohawk’s vinyl flooring plant in Belgium; how the Glasgow, Va., carpet tile plant is tackling the global pollinator crisis; and a mobile material recycler that can process up to 30 tons of scrap material per hour for ceramic tile plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Texas.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 10.08.29 AMThe report also highlights Mohawk’s sizeable product portfolio that leads the industry in sustainable technology. Mohawk is the world’s largest ceramic tile producer, and more than 450 of the company’s tile products contain pre- and post-consumer recycled content. Similarly, as the largest laminate flooring manufacturer in the U.S. and Europe, Mohawk’s products are made with predominantly recycled wood fiber and chips from sustainable sources. In commercial flooring, Mohawk Group has the industry’s largest portfolio of Red List-free products.

Some notable, innovative sustainable solutions in Mohawk’s portfolio include:

  • Airo: Mohawk’s exclusive new soft floor covering category with unified backing is manufactured almost entirely from recycled polyester and is already winning awards and kudos.
  • SmartStrand: Because soft, stain-resistant SmartStrand carpets are made with renewably sourced polymers, they require less energy to manufacture than other fibers.
  • EverStrand: Mohawk is one of the largest recyclers of PET soda and water bottles in the country, and billions of those bottles end up in Mohawk’s EverStrand carpets. (EverStrand carpets minimize the need for fossil fuels and help reduce plastic in landfills.)
  • Moduleo: Every year, Mohawk’s IVC vinyl manufacturing group reclaims up to 20,000 tons of PVC materials destined for landfills and transforms the material into the backing for Moduleo luxury vinyl tile flooring.

George Bandy, Mohawk’s vice president of sustainability, explains the thought process that drives the company’s sustainable efforts. “People spend about 90% of their time inside, so we as a company have a responsibility to ensure our products are contributing to healthy, productive, inspirational spaces.”

According to Bandy, this idea fuels the company’s breakthroughs across five pillars: design, innovation, sustainability, project solutions and operational excellence. “From our new Light Lab Design Center in Northwest Georgia to our manufacturing plants around the world, we understand and embrace that better is always possible.”

Retailers play a key role as well, Bandy noted. “They can make a difference from a design and sustainability standpoint by engaging in this process with us. Retailers can work with us to help make sustainable business more the norm than the exception by carrying this message.”