Key West getting global experts on reuse, recycling

Reclaimed carpet backing is shredded before loading into agglomerator for further processing at InterfaceFLOR's Georgia ReEntry 2.0 plant.
Reclaimed carpet backing is shredded before loading into agglomerator for further processing at InterfaceFLOR's Georgia ReEntry 2.0 plant.

Atlanta businessman Claude Ouimet tells the story of a forklift operator working in one of InterfaceFLOR's manufacturing plants.

A skeptical business executive, unconvinced about the value of "going green," asked the operator "Why are you working here?"

The forklift operator's response, "Because I'm making a difference," Ouimet recounts, which says a lot about the philosophy Oiumet carries with him whenever he talks sustainability and going green.

It's changed his company and he hopes others embrace it as well.

He'll bring the company's global perspective on green manufacturing to Eco-Week, a four-day program of speeches, workshops and field trips headquartered at the Tennessee Williams Theatre on Stock Island.

Joining Ouimet is a host of other speakers who are part of the scheduled lineup for Eco-Week: Tia Diaz-Balart, president and founder of EcoChamber; Jennifer Languell, president of Trifecta Construction; Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University;

Jorge Pinon, Senior Research Associate, Florida International University, former President of Amoco Oil Latin America; Ed Overton, LSU Professor of Environmental Sciences and John L. Fiveash, counsel for Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.

Ouimet's company, InterfaceFLOR, a global manufacturer of modular carpeting systems, has embarked on "Mission Zero."

The concept embraces sustainability with the ultimate goal of "using as few new natural resources as possible in the course of doing business."

For carpet manufacturing, that means recycling their products and reusing the raw materials to repurpose and remanufacture.

By 2020, the company's ambitious goal is to produce all their products from recycled and repurposed materials - so zero new materials needed for their plants.

Since 1994, InterfaceFLOR has reclaimed more than 220 million pounds of used carpet, recycling much of it into the production of its own modular carpet tile products.

This takes place at InterfaceFLOR's ReEntry 2.0 facility in LaGrange, Ga. just outside Atlanta and near the company's corporate headquarters.

Ouimet will talk about "going green" at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4 at the Tennessee Williams Theatre on Stock Island.

He's among a dozen speakers who will be sharing their visions and their challenges for the EcoWeek Summit.

About his own company's embrace of "going green," Ouimet says "there is no question it can have a positive impact on your bottom line. But if you're only doing it for market share, you're going to fail."If you're doing it because it's the right thing to do, you'll succeed. You have to be accountable. You have to be transparent.

"You have to convince yourself and your work force that you are part of the global solution. You have to mean it, and you have to let people know you mean it."

More about the complete roster of speakers, topics and programs planned is available by going to:

The conference costs $375. Daily admission costs $150.

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