Ray C. Anderson, CEO of Interface Inc., first winner of the Sustainability Leadership Award

Source: Sustainability Forum, 2 October 2001

SAM Sustainable Asset Management / Sustainable Performance Group (SPG) for the first time presented the Sustainability Leadership Award. This annual award acknowledges an individual who, through his willingness to question orthodox thinking and determination to make alternative solutions work, has managed to make tangible progress in corporate sustainability.

The winner was picked by an independent jury and received a prize sum of CHF 50,000.
The first winner is Ray C. Anderson, CEO of Interface Inc.
Reason for the Nomination:
While Interface,the largest commercial carpet manufacturer in the world,is known worldwide for its commitment to high quality design and innovation,the company is fast gaining a reputation as a corporation carrying the banner for the environment.Inspired chiefly by Paul Hawken’s book,The Ecology of Commerce,Ray has heightened the
company’s awareness and led changes in technology in an effort to become completely sustainable.
Admittedly,Interface is not there yet;however,the company is investing in the processes and technologies to get it there.As an example,Interface is learning to harness solar energy and provide raw material needs by harvesting and recycling carpet and other petrochemical products,while eliminating waste and harmful emissions from its operations.
Ray believes that if Interface can get it right,it will never need to take another drop of oil from the earth.According to Ray,it’s not only the right thing to do,but the smart thing,too.

Since the days after his graduation from Georgia Institute of Technology as an industrial engineer ,Ray Anderson has quietly gone about fostering an entrepreneurial spirit that has
resulted in his building one of the world’s largest commercial interior furnishings companies.
After founding Interface in 1973,Ray and his company have revolutionized the carpet and floor-covering industry. Now,Ray has embarked on a mission to make Interface a sustainable corporation by leading a worldwide war on waste and pioneering the processes
of sustainable development.
Ray learned the carpet trade through 14-plus years at various positions at Deering-Milliken and Callaway Mills,and in 1973,set about founding a company to produce the first free-lay carpet tiles in America.He developed a partnership with Britain’s Carpets International Plc. that year,set up operations in LaGrange,Georgia,took over Carpets International 10 years later.Today,the company Ray founded is the world’s largest producer of commercial
From corporate offices in Atlanta,Ray oversees a global company whose core business is still modular carpet.Named one of America’s "100 Best Companies to Work For"in 1997 and 1998 by FORTUNE magazine,Interface has diversified and globalized its businesses, with sales in 110 countries and manufacturing facilities on four continents.In addition to carpet tiles and broadloom carpet marketed under several brands,Interface also manufactures and markets interior fabrics and specialty products such as raised access
flooring,as well as a variety of adhesives and cleaning products used in commercial office installations.