He saw that waste from industrial processes polluted the environment and emissions from energy use were causing global warming. His conclusion: this culture cannot continue without serious environmental and social repercussions.
Ray's epiphany revolutionised Interface's business strategy from that day forward, and has characterised the company's development ever since.
Our mission is to become the first company to be fully sustainable - with zero negative impact. We call this Mission Zero and we will achieve this by 2020.
We want to work in equilibrium, with no negative effects from our people, process or products. And we want to go a step further - to be restorative, putting back more than we take out from the environment and the community.
This is a huge challenge demanding the full application and talent of our people to provide the innovative thinking we need. Everyone at Interface is expected to challenge the way we relate to the environment and think how it can be improved. Our people effectively have two managers - the person they report to and the planet.
We train our employees to do this and provide incentives to achieve progress towards Mission Zero. The personal performance objectives of our management and executives are also linked to Mission Zero.
Interface Chairman Ray Anderson has likened the challenge of achieving Mission Zero to climbing a mountain higher than Everest. With this in mind, we have set out our path to scale ‘Mount Sustainability' on seven ambitious fronts.
In 1994 Interface Chairman Ray Anderson recognised that the way industry worked was fundamentally unsustainable. Ray could see how much of the Earth's valuable natural resources industry used up and threw away, with too little regard for the future.