Interface CEO: We’re Going Green By Using Other People’s Waste

Running a large company isn’t easy on the environment. With more waste created and only a finite supply of natural resources, CEOs are realizing the long-term business benefit of creating a cleaner world.

One executive focused on the issue is Jay Gould. He runs Interface, a global carpet tile manufacturer, which approaches sustainability in a unique way: by using other people’s waste. “We’re on a new journey called Climate Take Back to demonstrate that company’s like ours can operate in carbon negative business models,” the CEO says.

Here’s how it works: Technology is used to capture carbon directly from the source at industrial sites, then reused to make products that are sold to consumers. The net result for business is considered carbon negative.

Creating a carbon-neutral model doesn’t happen overnight, though. “The unique challenge of running a purpose-driven company is finding the appropriate time-frame when making decisions. [Planning for sustainability] needs a 20- or 30-year time horizon,” Gould says. “Perform well now in order to continue to invest in the long-term. It’s helpful to have a board that believes in this mission.”

CEOs have the opportunity to lead on matters of sustainability, says Gould, who believes that conventional capitalism is in crisis. “This is one of the reasons I joined the Fortune CEO Initiative—to learn from others on this journey to remake capitalism for the 21st century.”

Watch the video above for more from Fortune’s interview with Gould.

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