Architecture and Design is pleased to announce Above Left / Carpets Inter as the official sponsor of the ‘Green Building’ category at the 2019 Sustainability Awards. 

With only two months to go, we speak to Richard Morris, Global Business Director at Carpets Inter to discuss company initiatives, goals and missions towards an innovative and sustainable future. 

What’s your role and what led you into the world of sustainability and carpets?

My life-long career in the carpet manufacturing industry began on February 22 1982. I’ve spent the last 30 years working in Asia in product development, sales and distribution for a range of leading international and Asian carpet manufacturing businesses. My core focus has been managing high-end hospitality projects, where the technical performance criteria always take precedence over design aesthetics.

In mid-2016 I came to Carpets Inter in Bangkok to resurrect the organisation’s ‘Corporate Division’ of modular carpet tiles. 

It’s been an amazing journey, one that is still very much ongoing with continued product innovation. 

How does Carpets Inter push sustainability and innovation?

Innovation is a primary principle to staying ahead of the competition. If you become complacent, you’ll just become a follower competing on price at the lower end of the market. At Carpets Inter we’re constantly engineering viable product solutions and design-driven collections in response to what our customers demand to stay ahead. 

One such initiative that we’re really proud of is our proprietary EcoSoft® Felt cushion backing. This is made with over 50 recycled PET Bottles per square metre, which is adhered as a single installation flooring solution. The product is saving our planets eco-systems by assisting to divert discarded plastic bottles away from landfill, or worse ending up in our oceans and killing marine life. 

How is Carpets Inter pushing and contributing to sustainability agendas?

We’re the most diversified manufacturer and distributor of a comprehensive range of carpet types made from various types of natural and synthetic yarn fibres. Within our sustainability principles we strive to achieve John Elkington’s 3p Principle for Sustainable Development – Profit, People, Planet. 

Some other amazing figures that the organisation has achieved include a 44 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions since 1999, we’re on track to have a zero water effluent discharge by 2021 and we’ve been zero landfill since 2009. Our Bi Product is primarily used for two major environmental purposes. The sediment from our used water treatment plant is converted into Organic Fertilizer for domestic agriculture in growing rice crop and the planting of trees for CO2 offsets. Our modular offcuts are used as bio-fuel in kilns by the main Cement factory providing product to the urban development of Thailand.

We also offer customers immediate landfill diversion and reutilisation with our rEcover program.

What makes Carpets Inter different to other companies that offer flooring products? 

In a word ‘diversity’. Our vertically integrated manufacturing processes extend to all types of carpet manufacturing, including handmade, woven, machine tufted and needle punched. Because of this, we’re able to process and prepare all major high-performance fibres. 

Our DNA has always been about being custom-made, so our in-house R&D and design teams are extremely innovative, evolving with the everchanging dynamic of the market demand. Our size allows us the flexibility to take onboard feedback and engineer ‘fit-for-purpose’ hybrid products that are affordable, providing the best ROI to the consumer. 

Add to this that all products are tested to meet the highest internationally recognised performance and sustainable standards and that we are one of the most qualified in the industry for environmental and sustainable achievements.  

By 2025, Carpets Inter will recycle over 1,000,000,000 discarded plastic bottles. How are you proceeding with this goal? 

To date we have recycled over 700,000,000 discarded plastic drinking water bottles and this year, Carpets Inter is proud to announce a new phase in its multi-year sustainability campaign. In conjunction with the launch of our latest Ecosoft® backed modular carpet tile collection “Upstream”, we will donate a portion of sales revenue to support the visionary non-profit organisation The Ocean Clean Up. The mission of The Ocean Clean Up is to rid the world’s oceans of nearly nine million tons of plastic accumulation each year through its passive collection method that harnesses the natural flow of earth’s deep-sea currents. 

Supporting The Ocean Clean up is the logical next step in our larger goal to reduce our carbon footprint in every facet of our global business, where we are leading the way for our industry in recycling and sustainable practices. A central part of this initiative is to have recycled and upcycled-backing types as a mainstay of commercial carpet tiles in both established and developing markets. It’s not just good for our business, it’s good for humanity!

Among the plastic debris responsible for the deaths of millions of marine animals each year, plastic bottles pose a particular threat as nearly a million are bought or sold around the world every minute. Our broad mission is to create high-quality modular carpet products that enhance people’s lives. Because backing made from upcycled PET plastic bottles is such an integral part of our product, the Carpets Inter brand has a natural affinity with ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of plastic polluting our oceans. The Ocean Clean up is an innovator in this initiative, as we strive to be an innovator in ours.

EcoSoft® is without doubt the best modular carpet tile backing in the industry today and provides increased durability, underfoot comfort, acoustical propensity, improved insulation to cut energy bills and better indoor air quality. Made from 80 per cent post-consumer material reengineered from millions of discarded plastic drinking water bottles, plus five to 10 per cent post-industrial recycled PET, this environmentally-friendly backing not only meets all the stringent performance criteria required for carpet tile, but consistently outperforms conventional PVC and bitumen hard back, as well as urethane cushion back. 

We are more than confident that we will reach our target to recycle over one billion plastic bottles by 2025. We see ourselves as more than just a carpet manufacturer, we are a protector of our planet’s well-being. We take a leadership position in our industry as a good global citizen, dedicated to making a positive environmental, social, and economic impact around the world wherever our carpet is put to use.