At Mohawk, we believe we can build a better world by listening to Mother Nature. We’re redefining flooring with products that not only minimize climate impacts, but also foster beauty and allow people to thrive. This commitment extends to our customers, employees and communities — because believing in better is good
Mohawk is continually making investments to build a stronger, more sustainable business. Our Chairman and CEO Jeff Lorberbaum explains how investing today will yield a better tomorrow.
How does sustainability intersect with creativity—and how does this apply to flooring? Our VP of Sustainability George Bandy explains the challenges we’re solving and the trends we’re keeping our eyes on.
Mohawk Industries is the world’s largest flooring provider. Get a bird’s-eye view of our business in 2016.
Living up to our role as a global leader, we are aligning our actions with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The goals provide a common vocabulary for communicating our work in an evolving marketplace.
Ingenuity drives innovation at Mohawk. We’re upending the status quo of flooring design with better, more planet-friendly products.
With about 90 percent of our time spent indoors, it’s imperative that we offer products that keep people healthy. By declaring the contents of our products, we’re helping customers make better choices.
An intentionally designed workspace can offer a lighter environmental footprint—and can inspire others to think greener, too. Take a glimpse inside Mohawk’s Light Lab.
We’re using our large global presence to make a large global difference. Discover recent environmental initiatives that are resulting in significant impact.
As we acquire and grow our businesses globally, sharing ideas makes all of us stronger. With open lines of communication, Mohawk’s sustainability mindset is spreading around the world.
By treating scraps and post-consumer products not as waste, but as valuable inputs, we’re transforming our industry—and saving energy and money in the process.
The communities in which we work are among our most essential stakeholders. Mohawk’s time, money and in-kind donations make life better for those we serve.
To create healthy products, we need healthy people. Clinics at more than a dozen Mohawk facilities are empowering employees to take charge of their own wellness.
Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
While the flooring industry has changed dramatically during the past few decades, Mohawk’s values have remained constant and steadfast. Those values include our commitment to do the right thing for our customers, employees and communities, which is a key component of our business strategy. In 2016, our Company enjoyed a record year, but our financial results are only one measure of our success. Today, as the world’s largest flooring company, we also assess our performance by the significant and positive impact we make through all aspects of our business.
We are driving consumers and commercial customers to sustainable flooring choices by complementing our “green” products with exceptional design, performance and value. We continue to push the boundaries of sustainability with innovative new products such as Airo, our exclusive new soft floor covering category with unified backing, all manufactured almost entirely from recycled polyester. With its ease and speed of installation, Airo also reduces the physical stress on installers, provides long-lasting performance and can be completely recycled at the end of its life cycle.
Airo joins a sizeable product portfolio that leads the industry in sustainable technology. More than 450 of our beautiful and durable tile products — ceramic, porcelain and mosaic — contain pre- and post-consumer recycled content. Our distinctively designed laminate flooring boards are made with predominantly recycled wood fiber and chips from sustainable sources. Our market-leading SmartStrand® carpet collections are produced with a proprietary bio-based polymer and offer unparalleled softness and stain resistance, which we have recently extended into elegant rug collections, as well.
Our people drive the performance of our business and are integral parts of our sustainability philosophy. Across the business, we have helped our people forge a culture of safety, wellness and learning. Our world-class safety performance is the result of Mohawk’s investment in training, resources and equipment, as well as the commitment of our people to protect each other through job safety observations and active interventions on the plant floor. Our wellness initiatives include Company-provided care at on-site clinics, free access to health coaches for advice on nutrition, exercise and chronic disease management and virtual care kiosks at our remote locations. Our people have repeatedly told us that these programs have dramatically improved their quality of life. They, in turn, have encouraged one another to make healthier choices, participate in walking groups and engage in on-site nutrition discussions. We are honored that our learning initiatives have garnered recognition for many years, though we are prouder of the informal learning culture fostered by our people. They perpetuate our values by mentoring new hires, providing ongoing peer support and passing along institutional knowledge.
We also are inspiring our people where they work. We have created buildings that align with our values and help us to better understand the sustainability needs of our customers. Our Mohawk Flooring Center in Calhoun is a repurposed yarn mill, and the project received a Gold LEED certification for its creative transformation of an existing facility. Mohawk Group’s new Light Lab is a living example of what’s possible with sustainable construction. We re-invented a mid-century office building as a state-of-the-art commercial design center with an emphasis on sustainability, earning Mohawk the state of Georgia’s first Living Building Challenge Petal certification from the International Living Future Institute.™
We are constantly implementing ways to work better and smarter, which brings value to our customers, allows our people to be more efficient and reduces our environmental impact. In 2016 alone, process improvements, product re-engineering and equipment upgrades positively impacted our productivity by $140 million. The depth of these savings reflects hundreds of unique projects across the enterprise, most of which deliver environmental benefits — from state-of-the-art equipment that’s less energy intensive to improved freight logistics that reduce carbon emissions to paperless sales and administrative processes that save time and eliminate waste.
While some process improvements require investments, we’ve learned that productivity is not always capital-driven. It is also a matter of ingenuity, such as when we share ideas across facilities on how to send less waste to landfills. Or when we implement ideas that save money while repurposing byproducts, like putting a material recycler on wheels so that it can travel between facilities and repurpose off goods back into the manufacturing stream.
Our ability to positively impact the world around us is growing, due to historic levels of investment in our business and in acquisitions that support our entry into new markets or product categories, as well as internal investments that allow us to introduce more innovative products, improve productivity and increase capacity. All of these initiatives benefit our position as a leader in sustainability. Investments that yield innovative products allow us to offer customers and commercial clients more sustainable choices. Capacity expansion allows us to manufacture products closer to where they’re sold, thereby reducing transportation energy and cost. Productivity improvements allow us to lower energy consumption, reduce waste and make flooring faster and better. We believe that growth is good, and we are growing in a sustainable way that benefits our stakeholders and the environment.
Our sustainability practices reflect the commitment of our Company and the passion of our people. We have become a sustainability leader in the flooring industry by pursuing innovative solutions while staying true to our values. I’m encouraged by the direction in which we’re headed, and I look forward to sharing further progress with you as Mohawk continues to believe in — and invest in — a better tomorrow.
Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum
Chairman and CEO
A Conversation with George Bandy
Vice President of Sustainability
What is “Believe in Better” and how did the idea originate?
Constantly working toward a better version of ourselves is a significant part of Mohawk’s DNA. This idea fuels our breakthroughs across our five pillars: design, innovation, sustainability, project solutions and operational excellence. From the design studio to our manufacturing plants, we understand and embrace that better is always possible. We reflected upon that guiding principle and organized it so our global community can join us in this journey to a better tomorrow.
How is Mohawk starting to implement sustainable leadership within the philosophy’s five pillars?
Our new Light Lab Design Center in Northwest Georgia, which was completed earlier this year, is a true embodiment of these five pillars. Designed in collaboration with SCAD, Light Lab is an environment that not only brings together all our different design disciplines, but is a creative hub for our design teams, customers, and community wrapped in an aspirational sustainable spirit. The Living Building Challenge Petal Certified project incorporates Biophilic design elements and serves as an inspiring workspace for our associates.
What are some sustainability challenges currently facing the contract flooring sector?
We spend about 90 percent of our time inside, so we have a responsibility to make sure our products are contributing to healthy, productive, inspirational spaces. Among the biggest challenges are product ingredient transparency and agreeing upon a common language to evaluate the health impacts of our products. We encourage all manufacturers to embrace transparency; it is a necessary prerequisite for informed decisions related to selecting the right materials for every project.
What other sustainability measures is Mohawk taking to lead the industry?
We're supporting third-party platforms like LEED, Living Product Challenge and WELL that strengthen our ability to provide healthier products that support healthier people and sustain a healthier planet. Additionally, we are committed to engaging with our stakeholders to support their quest for delivering a “believe in better” mindset that goes beyond materials and buildings and reminds us that we are a part of nature and that she is a part of us.
What topics or trends is Mohawk paying attention to right now?
We are focusing on the maker movement and ways of humanizing technology, how design should help balance a changing world, increasing acceptance and tolerance amid blurring cultural boundaries, and testing limits of humankind and nature. Also, looking at millennials' and generation Z’s expectations of experiences that are intertwined with the responsive way their smart devices interconnect with them. People have a desire to take control of their lives, to mold and curate much of what they experience. Finally, diversity and inclusiveness are driving a more dense and eclectic mix of people and experiences in the marketplace globally. The desire for a startup, artisanal, maker, circular economy mindset will require more collaborative and innovative solutions.
Carpet, rugs, laminate,
sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tile
and wood flooring in the
North American market
luxury vinyl tile,
wood and boards
We understand the responsibilities that come with being a global leader in the flooring industry and a local citizen in the communities where we live and work. With a strong tradition of doing the right thing, we are working to create a world where all people are valued, where health and well-being are prioritized and where sustainable use of resources drives every action. That is why we believe in better.
Our values and vision for a better world are aligned closely with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set out a vision for ending poverty, hunger, inequality and protecting the Earth’s natural resources. Comprised of 17 goals and 169 targets, the SDGs provide a common vision and a roadmap for sustainable development. Realizing this ambition — shared by more than 190 countries — will require a concerted collective action and new forms of partnership.
At Mohawk, as we move forward with our global sustainability efforts, we want to share in a platform that will continue to allow us to believe in better. Our commitment to a more sustainable future is shared by other companies that demonstrate sustainable practices within their businesses. The SDGs provide a global vocabulary to communicate our corporate engagement and sustainable leadership to an evolving marketplace.
“What If?” It’s a question we ask a lot at Mohawk. Frequently, it involves innovating new and better products, new styles, new attributes and new levels of performance. Innovation is also about developing more sustainable materials, manufacturing techniques, and practices regarding installation and reuse. Our willingness to rethink the status quo of flooring design — combined with our record-high levels of investment in the business — has led to a steady pipeline of new products. Today, recent introductions make up a significant percentage of our sales.
Billions of pounds of carpet end life in landfills every year. But what if they didn’t have to? That question was the inspiration for Airo, a product that required us to rethink carpet construction from start to finish. We wanted to develop a new type of carpet that would reduce waste and add value for consumers. To do this, we replaced the traditional latex and secondary backing found in most types of carpet with a proprietary adhesive. Because every element of the product is made from 100 percent PET, it can be ground down and repurposed as new carpet when it is no longer needed — making it a truly closed-loop product.
Airo represents an entirely new category of soft floor covering, and it offers more than just environmental benefits. For dealers, it enables higher-productivity installation, thanks to its tension-free construction. And for consumers, Airo delivers long-lasting performance with no need for stretching, and it helps reduce household odors thanks to its inherent moisture resistance. We introduced Airo at the International Surface Event in early 2017, where it won awards for innovation and design. The early success of such a groundbreaking new product gives us confidence in what’s possible.
A new generation of vinyl plank flooring has arrived with SolidTech, which combines the strength and rich visual of hardwood with the fashion, durability and cleanability of a luxury vinyl tile or plank. With low-frequency pattern repetition, SolidTech offers the most natural hard surface flooring visual we’ve ever created.
The SmartStrand Naturals™ collection of carpets is stain-resistant yet soft and luxurious underfoot. Because they’re made with renewably sourced polymers, they require less energy to manufacture than other fibers. And while other carpets are sprayed with chemicals that wash off over time, SmartStrand Naturals’ stain-resistant component is inside the fiber itself.
Mohawk is one of the largest recyclers of PET bottles in the country, more than 5.5 billion each year, and many of those bottles end up in our EverStrand® carpets. Using our BCF Continuum process, we have created a line of carpets that is stronger and more stain-resistant than other PET products. Thanks to their recycled inputs, EverStrand carpets minimize the need for fossil fuels and help reduce plastic in landfills.
Every year, IVC reclaims up to 20,000 tons of PVC materials destined for landfills—and turns it into the backing for beautiful Moduleo® floors. Moduleo LVT flooring is produced exclusively with water-based inks and PU coatings, and features an easy, low-impact installation process with the LockXpress click system.
Achieving greater sustainability requires finding creative solutions to challenges posed by energy, water and waste. At Mohawk, some of our most impactful initiatives are the result of thinking outside the box. We believe that fostering a culture of innovation and idea-sharing is the best way to ensure progress toward greater environmental efficiency over time.
Whenever possible, we look for ways to supply our energy needs with fewer carbon emissions and to make use of the resources we have at hand. For example, manufacturing high-grade vinyl floors requires cooling water to absorb heat. IVC in Belgium once used Freon-based refrigerants to do the job, but have recently invested in a far more environmentally friendly approach: surface water from the nearby Scheldt river. The water travels through a closed-loop system, never making contact with the plant’s process cooling water. This means no contamination of the river water, minimal temperature increases, and significant noise reduction on the site.
Our Glasgow, Virginia, carpet plant continues to be a model of sustainability, thanks to its investments in energy efficiency. Now, it is helping tackle the global pollinator crisis through its very own beehives. Junie Snider, longtime beekeeper and Senior Production Manager in charge of tufting at the facility, helped set up hives at the edge of the property. The eight hives are home to more than 1 million bees, now busy pollinating the surrounding area and supplying honey to Mohawk employees and visitors.
When scrap materials remain from our production processes, we don’t view them as trash, but rather as valuable inputs that we can put back to use. Our Dal-Tile plants in Tennessee, Alabama and Texas can recycle their scrap tile. But until recently, they lacked an efficient way to do so. While they could have each purchased a stationary recycler, they instead devised a solution for a fraction of the cost — a mobile material recycler that could travel to each location when needed. The recycler got rolling in late 2016 and can process up to 30 tons of material per hour. This not only keeps scrap tile out of landfills — it turns scrap into new tile body that can be turned back into marketable products.
Believing in better means lifting up the communities where we operate. Mohawk is proud to volunteer time, money and in-kind donations of flooring materials to support local causes and national initiatives. Several initiatives allow us to increase our impact through our products.
Mohawk is a longtime supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global leader in the fight against breast cancer. In 2016, we went the extra mile for 3-Day participants across the U.S., providing pieces of SmartCushion for walkers and crew members to place under their sleeping bags.
Two ongoing initiatives that allow us to increase our impact through our products are Specify for the Cure and Decorate for the Cure. Through Specify for the Cure, we make donations for every square yard of select commercial carpet styles sold. Decorate for the Cure is a chance for our residential customers to get involved, with a portion of the proceeds from all Mohawk SmartCushion and Karastan KaraStep Reserve cushion sales donated to the cause. Collectively, these commitments include a minimum guaranteed donation of $250,000 each year.
Komen since 2001
by 3-Day walkers
Another area of support involves families of children with long-term illnesses. Home remodeling is one of the last things on the minds of these families. But when it comes to brightening a sick child’s day or installing features to make daily life easier, good design can make all the difference.
That’s the philosophy of Sunshine on a Ranney Day (SOARD), an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides wheelchair-accessible spaces, dream bedroom makeovers and in-home therapy rooms for families of children with serious illnesses. Mohawk has partnered with SOARD since 2013, helping to make dreams come true for dozens of children like Peyton, a toddler fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We supplied SmartStrand® Forever Clean™ carpet for her princess-themed room.
Mohawk also helped SOARD renovate Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s family wing, a place where family members can rest while their children are being treated. The project culminated in an emotional big reveal on the Today show.
IVC Group supports Food4All, a local food bank in Avelgem, Belgium that provides food to hundreds of people every week. The business also donated to Music for Life, a festival hosted by a national radio station that raises money for local charities.
In Russia, Kerama Marazzi employees helped repair a local kindergarten, installing tiles in bathrooms, kitchens and a swimming pool.
Regional sales teams in Rostov, Russia launched a social fundraising project by giving children base tiles on which to draw their own designs. The tiles are being sold in Kerama Marazzi stores, with the proceeds being used to repair city schools.
Dal-Tile remains a national corporate sponsor of Habitat for Humanity, with several teams of Sales Service Center employees and customers completing day-long home builds in the past year.
When SEEDcollaborative began making plans to construct sustainable learning spaces for children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., Mohawk was one of the first potential partners they called. SEEDcollaborative builds healthy living environments that serve as a self-contained lesson in sustainability, and flooring supplied by Mohawk Group helped them create a space that meets Living Building Challenge standards. The Pittsburgh-based classroom, unveiled in 2015, features nontoxic materials, generates its own energy and recycles water onsite. It’s just one example of how Mohawk strives to provide flooring choices that create healthier spaces for consumers and commercial customers.
The Mohawk name has become synonymous with sustainability, thanks to our work eliminating pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), from our products. To do this, we embrace both traditional and cutting-edge processes to create products without VOCs, from kiln firing for ceramic tile to PureBond technology that eliminates formaldehyde adhesives in engineered wood. Other health-friendly products include Unilin’s patented Uniclic installation technology, a glue-less and chemical-free system that reduces material use and air quality impact during product installation.
Our products have earned a host of health-focused environmental certifications, including:
Certifications help customers sort through various “green” claims and select the products that will keep homes and commercial spaces safe. Many of our businesses also use life cycle assessment (LCA) to understand and evaluate the complete impact of our products. LCAs in turn can be used to implement Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which are the most complete environmental footprint assessments currently available, and Health Product Declarations (HPDs), which provide information on product contents and health impacts.
Dal-Tile was the first ceramic tile manufacturer to voluntarily disclose cradle-to-grave inputs on all products manufactured in North America through UL Environment EPDs for its five brands.
The Mohawk Group offers the industry’s largest Red List-free product portfolio, as well as a Red List-free installation process.
Mohawk creates sustainable flooring products that help other organizations meet building efficiency goals. What better way to demonstrate our commitment than to build a facility for ourselves that meets these high standards?
That was the inspiration behind Mohawk’s Light Lab, the new home for commercial and hospitality product design teams across Mohawk. The 33,000-square-foot facility in Dalton, Georgia offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape and incorporates reclaimed and responsibly sourced materials throughout.
In May 2016, Light Lab received Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge program. It is the first Living Building Challenge Petal Certified project in the state of Georgia and the first certified restoration project in the entire southeastern United States.
Light Lab is more than a space to inspire great design. It is a place where Mohawk’s customers can come to bring their projects to life. Commercial and hospitality customers can visit Light Lab to speak with a designer about their custom projects, run pilot samples in a state-of-the-art pilot plant and get real-time feedback from our experts. With Light Lab, Mohawk is establishing our leadership position in sustainable building materials and engaging with our customers on a new level.
To successfully create products that make healthy spaces, we need a healthy workforce. That’s why we’ve established 13 on-site Healthy Life Centers (HLCs) and three virtual clinics at our largest facilities in the United States, plus a clinic at our ceramic facility in Monterrey, Mexico.
HLCs offer acute care, chronic disease management, preventive exams and vaccines, pediatrics, mobile mammogram screenings, pre-placement examinations, occupational health services, on-site orthopedic provider visits including physical therapy, wellness coaching and integrated care coordination with primary care physicians.
A priority for HLCs is to empower employees to take charge of their own health. We do this through wellness initiatives like the following:
While a healthier life is a reward in itself, we also recognize that healthier employees means fewer sick days, greater productivity and lower healthcare costs. Increased participation and improved outcomes as a result of our preventive care programs show us that our investments are working — for our employees and business.
The metrics below are based on employees of U.S. and Mexico participating facilities only.
Plan members who
visited an HLC
Mohawk is committed to keeping more materials in our manufacturing loop and out of landfills — the essence of a circular economy. We do this by manufacturing products with cleaner materials that produce less waste, as well as by giving existing materials a longer, more productive life. Through programs and projects that reuse and recycle flooring, we’re shrinking our industry’s environmental footprint.
We make laminate flooring from lumber byproducts and wood scraps that would otherwise go unused. With very limited forestry in the Flanders region of Belgium, where our Unilin division manufactures laminate, both new and recycled wood is scarce.
In order to answer the European Union’s call for 20 percent renewably energy, the Flemish authorities started to subsidize green electricity biomass plants. As a result, that sector began competing for the same fresh wood by-products that Unilin uses as a raw material. In response, Unilin began to focus increasingly on recyclable post-consumer wood, which can be sourced from nearby to avoid additional impacts from transportation. To ensure this sourcing strategy, Unilin emphasized the importance in Flemish legislation of adopting the European principles to cascade the use of wood, ensuring that wood streams are used as a raw material as often and for as long as possible before ending up as biomass.
With this support in place, we’ve joined waste collectors, waste sorters and recyclers in a two-year study to develop, analyze and evaluate different scenarios around the many roadblocks to wood waste recycling in the region. The goal is to find a way to repurpose wood waste at least one more time before it ultimately reaches end-of-life as biomass material. This project has led our wood panel business in Belgium to increase its sourcing of urban wood as a raw material from 30 to 80 percent. We’re also collaborating with an external party to transform MDF waste to active carbon, which could result in the first recycled use of MDF boards.
The Mohawk Group’s carpet recycling program, ReCover, turned 10 in 2016. Through this program, Mohawk removes carpet from customer buildings, then donates it to nonprofit organizations instead of sending it to landfills. Over the past decade, ReCover has given 148.5 million pounds — or 32.6 million square yards — of carpet new life. We’ve also expanded into other types of flooring removal, including working with an airline customer to divert carpet and other materials from inside airplanes.
When Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina, sought to become the United States' first LEED Platinum-certified hotel, they called on Mohawk to help. The hotel wanted to replace the carpet in its guest rooms and corridors, but didn’t want used carpet sent to landfills. Staff from Mohawk’s ReCover program handled the reclamation and transport of the original carpet, while Durkan provided new custom, multi-level cut and loop carpeting. These efforts helped Proximity further demonstrate its commitment to its customers — and earn the title of one of the greenest-built luxury hotels in the world.
Mohawk Home is the largest supplier of rugs and mats in the United States. Products in this segment not only help families bring warmth and comfort to their homes — they help keep used tires out of the waste stream. Mohawk’s Impressions mats combine molded crumb rubber from recycled tires with a 100-percent-recycled PET fabric top. This product line alone can use up to 10 million pounds of recycled tire crumb rubber every year.
Learn more about what our brands are doing to advance sustainability and corporate responsibility