Calhoun, Ga.—Mohawk Industries has been recognized as a finalist in Fast Company magazine’s 2020 Innovation by Design Awards in the sustainability category. The flooring manufacturer was honored for Continuum, its patented process that recycles plastic bottles and transforms them into sustainable carpet fibers.
“The core of our sustainability marketing strategy has been to make a more concerted effort to engage consumers and designers in the amazing story of innovation that is Continuum,” said Karen Mendelsohn, Mohawk’s senior vice president of marketing. “We are absolutely thrilled to see our strides being recognized in such a prestigious competition alongside true power players in their respective industries.”
Mohawk joined other high-profile category finalists including Google, Nike, Perkins+Will, Procter & Gamble and the competition’s ultimate first-prize winner, Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, the firm behind Powerhouse Brattørkaia—an office building that creates twice as much energy as it uses. Mohawk and Continuum were also honored earlier this year with the Best of Surfaces Award in sustainability.
The Continuum process—a sustainable design innovation in the flooring industry that creates soft, durable carpet out of plastic bottle waste at Mohawk’s Summerville, Ga., plant—began in 2008. Since the implementation of Continuum, Mohawk Flooring said it is now the largest recycler of plastic bottles in North America. To date, Mohawk has recycled more than 40 billion plastic bottles, equivalent to two billion pounds of plastic, and in 2019 alone recycled seven billion plastic bottles. In using this process, the company has offset nearly 20% of recycled PET bottles in the U.S by creating 936 million square feet of the sustainable carpet.
In its simplest form, Continuum features six key steps to ensure production of high- quality, long-lasting sustainable carpeting. First, plastic PET bottles are collected from landfills, oceans and other waste processing systems. These bottles are vigorously cleaned, then crushed into pellets. The pellets are converted into premium fibers and spun into yarn. This recycled yarn is then tufted into EverStrand, EverStrand Soft Appeal and Air.o carpeting for residential applications, as well as EnviroStrand for commercial use.
The 2020 Innovation by Design Awards honor the designers and businesses solving the problems of today and tomorrow. The competition, now in its ninth year, has featured a cross section of blue-chip companies, scruffy startups and hungry young talent. There are 29 categories, and the judges include renowned designers from a variety of disciplines, business leaders from some of the most innovative companies in the world. Entries are judged on the key ingredients of innovation: functionality, originality, beauty, sustainability, user insight, cultural impact and business impact.