Having launched numerous initiatives aimed at curbing waste and protecting the environment, Shaw Industries has developed a central theme for its efforts. The company says its wide range of environmental stewardship programs will now all be referred to as the Shaw Green Edge. Included are more than 100 current and future initiatives highlighted by the cornerstone of Shaw’s environmental vision: cradle-to-cradle production. A dedicated consumer website focusing on the program (shawgreenedge.com) was launched late last year.
According to ceo Vance Bell, the company’s embrace of environmental issues has been driven by Shaw’s core values of honesty, integrity and hard work. The focus, he says, is on developing long-term environmental solutions. “We have worked very hard for many years to be on the forefront of environmentally responsible business practices. The Shaw Green Edge demonstrates our commitment to creating long-term environmental solutions with an immediate focus on discovering ways to improve our day to day processes and lowering the environmental impact of flooring. We want to be first. Real solutions, Real investments now. And, the company continues to minimize its environmental footprint.”
The upcoming spring 2007 opening of the Evergreen Nylon Recycling plant (purchased in 2005 from Honeywell with the Anso nylon brand) is expected to help Shaw realize its goal of cradle-to-cradle production. According to the company, the plant will break down post-consumer carpet containing Nylon 6 fiber into its original material, which then can be remade into new carpet fiber repeatedly.
“As the consuming public grows more aware of the environmental impact of waste, recycling efforts – especially those on a grand scale, such as Evergreen – will attract greater consumer interest and will make a difference in how consumers choose products,” says Steve Bradfield, Shaw’s director of environmental affairs.
According to Randy Merritt, Shaw’s president, the environmentally friendly initiatives are spreading well beyond commercial projects. “Green is now moving into the residential segment.” Builders including Centex and Lennar as well as consumers are demanding the products, he says.
The initiatives at Shaw include a waste-to-energy project in Dalton, Ga. that is centered on a gasification unit that converts post-consumer and post-industrial carpet waste and wood dust into energy. The company says the gasification unit saves more than 2.5 million gallons of fuel each year, while sending less waste to landfills. Overall, since 2000 Shaw has reduced greenhouse emissions by 45 percent. It now makes twice as much carpet per gallon of water used than it did in 1995. Since Shaw’s energy reduction program began in 2003, the company is on a track to hit a world-class 3 percent annual reduction in energy use per square yard of carpet. This year, the mission will continue with the Anso nylon carpet products that will contain post-consumer recycled content and be recyclable.
To call attention to its focus on ecology, Shaw has incorporated the prefix “Eco” to a number of its products. EcoWorx is recyclable carpet tiles that contain recycled content and have a 40 percent lower backing weight. (The advancement has enabled Shaw to exit the production of PVC.) EcoLogix cushion carpet tile backing is made with 91 percent post-consumer recycled content from green polyester (PET) soft drink bottles. Its use helps builders meet LEED certification requirements. EcoWorx Performance Broadloom launched in November 2006, is a sustainable, cradle to cradle carpet backing for commercial broadloom products. In addition, Eco Solution Q fiber is a premium branded fiber with a minimum of 25 percent recycled content. It is also a cradle to cradle product that is fully recyclable back into carpet fiber.
Bill McDonough, an environmentalist and architect who co-authoredCradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, noted that the company has established itself as a leader in environmental initiatives. “Shaw’s cradle to cradle carpets are a signal of the next industrial revolution,” he says. “These carpets will allow us to eliminate the concept of waste by recycling synthetic materials in continuous flows that have been deeply assessed for safety and returned to manufacturing again and again.”