Rolling Out the Green Carpet at SMARTer Textiles Conference: Commerce Department Learns About Carpet Industry’s SustainabilityIn a first-of-its-kind event, a group of representatives from the U.S. Commerce Department visited Dalton, Georgia to see all that the carpet industry has done and is doing to make the industry more sustainable.
According to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Import Administration Ronald K. Lorentzen, the SMARTer Textiles conference held at Shaw Industries was designed to show how “implementing sustainable manufacturing best practices can improve industry competitiveness and create a more stable environment for job growth.” In other words, being eco-friendly can make a company stronger and more profitable. Looking at all it has accomplished, I think the carpet industry has been operating under that assumption for quite some time.
The Commerce department has done similar tours where they looked at entire geographic regions, but why did a group come to look at the sustainability of just one industry? That’s easy – they were invited.
Shaw Industries, a Carpet and Rug Institute member company, extended the initial invitation, then invited other CRI-member companies to participate. In addition to Shaw, representatives from Mohawk Industries and Beaulieu of America made presentations on each company’s sustainability innovations. Other CRI member companies, J&J/Invision, and The Dixie Group also attended. CRI President Werner Braun moderated a panel discussion that included manufacturers, Commerce Department staff, and Georgina Sikorski, Executive Director of the Carpet America Recovery Effort.
The group toured Shaw’s waste-to-energy plant and Styron’s latex manufacturing plant that is largely powered using methane from the local landfill. More information is summarized in news stories from the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Dalton Daily Citizen newspapers, but here are some highlights:
• Ronald Lorentzen, the Commerce department’s assistant secretary for import administration said the $400 million-plus the carpet industry has spent on sustainable investments in recent years makes carpet “one of the most progressive industries” in the nation.
• Kim Glas, the deputy assistant secretary for the office of textiles and apparel, said, “I was thoroughly impressed with the facilities we toured and their commitment to sustainability practices and look forward to sharing what I learned with my colleagues at the Department of Commerce.”
• Shaw Industries CEO Vance Bell said that the carpet industry’s pioneering efforts towards sustainability have been “a well-kept secret”, but that is changing now.
Perhaps positive attention from a federal government agency might help spread the word further.
Congratulations to our Carpet and Rug Institute member companies!
From CRI’s 2008 Sustainability Report:
• Carpet industry emissions fell by an average of 53 percent from 2003 to 2007
• Water use declined to 3.68 gallons per square yard from 4.44 gallons from 2005 to 2007
• Electricity use fell to 1.39 kilowatt hours per square yard to 1.77 kilowatt hours from 2005 to 2007
• Biofuel use increased 72.9 percent from 2006 to 2007
• Use of recycled material increased by 85.6 percent from 2006 to 2007
For photos and a video from the event, click on this link to SMARTer Textiles & Carpet Sustainability.