Carpet magnate Ray Anderson of Interface wins $100,000 environmental prize
Anderson, 66, is founder and chairman of Interface Inc., an Atlanta-based, global manufacturer of carpet tiles, carpet, fabrics and other commercial interior products and services. The $100,000 Mitchell Prize will be awarded for the seventh time since 1974 on Jan. 29, during the Woodlands Conference.
The prize was established by Houston businessman and philanthropist George P. Mitchell and his wife Cynthia to recognize outstanding contributions to sustainable development.
The Woodlands Conference, a two-day colloquium organized by the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), explores the changes, capabilities and tools needed to help corporations achieve sustainability.
“Ray Anderson is a pioneer in using innovative approaches to change past practices and to eliminate waste,” said Mitchell. “His vision of how sustainable technology can be used as a core principle in doing business is exemplary.”
The Mitchell Prize selection committee, organized by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), cited Anderson for his pioneering vision, his leadership in striving to achieve sustainability in his company, his passion in challenging others to achieve sustainability worldwide and his humanity.
Anderson became chairman, president and CEO of Interface Inc. in February 1973. After reading Paul Hawken's book, “The Ecology of Commerce,” and Daniel Quinn's “Ishmael” in 1994, he became aware of the detrimental impact industry, and even his own company, were having on world resources. He soon instituted an innovative program to transform Interface -- first by making it a “sustainable” company in all practices and eventually to make it a “restorative” company -- one that returns to the earth more than it takes. In the past six years, Interface has undertaken more than 400 sustainability initiatives, including the design of new carpets and fabrics that are 100 percent recyclable at the end of their use and the development of the first “climate-neutral” floor covering product, Solenium.
Fortune Magazine, dubbing him the “Green CEO” (May 24, 1999), singled him out for his conversion to environmentalism and subsequent accomplishments. Anderson's book, “Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model,” outlines the steps his firm took to develop new business models that safeguard the environment. He served as co-chair of the President's Council on Sustainable Development and received the 1996 Global Green USA Millennium Award for Corporate Environmental Leadership as well as the 1996 Georgia Conservancy Distinguished Conservationist Award.