From the ground up: Mohawk Greenworks
September 15, 2008,
At the New York Market – To develop its Greenworks initiative, Mohawk Home took its eco cues from both its corporate parent Mohawk Industries and to grassroots sources including its own associate staffers.
The Mohawk Home showroom at 295 Fifth Ave. practically walks visitors into cornfields, as depicted by a mural demonstrating the new SmartStrand fiber featuring the DuPont-trademarked Sorona renewably sourced polymer, which substitutes 37% of the petroleum used in the product with corn-based ethanol.
Across from the agricultural-like setting is another eco exhibit of sorts -- a collection of stacked empty plastic beverage bottles, all of which will soon meet their fate as PET fiber used to make new bath and area rugs.
As the signage on these exhibits explains, Mohawk uses 160 plastic bottles to make a single PET rug, and says that greenhouse gas emissions from the production of corn-based Sorona are 63% lower than from nylon manufacturing.
“This effort has a very strong link to our corporate side,” said Bill Kilbride, president, Mohawk Home. “Carpet has had environmental specifications for years, and we’re able to now integrate into that. It floats from home to residential, to commercial and the Dal-Tile side.”
In the bath rug category, DuPont Sorona offers a comparable price- and product- alternative to nylon, said David Record, product manager for the bath division. “Sorona looks like, feels like, smells like and tastes like nylon,” he explained. “The consumer wouldn’t know the difference.”
He said Sorona dyes to any color just as nylon can, and costs “in the same neighborhood” – resulting in a typical retail of $14.99 for a 21”-y-34” rug.
Therefore, to sell it as something special, “we know we have to pitch its eco attributes,” said Kilbride.
On the area and accent side of the business, both Sorona and PET make for earth-friendly rugs. The PET fiber is used in both the Strike Back collection, a grouping of $49.99 entry-level price point pieces available in eight solid colors, and Eco Shag, also a solid colored grouping but in a heavyweight shag construction and priced at $99 for a 5-by-8.
Cleverly billed as “A-Maize-ing,” the new Sorona-made area rug collection is a heavyweight shag in 10 colors – four multi shades and six solid colors – and is set to retail for $149 for a 5-by-8.
Kilbride commented on the competitive pricing of the Sorona- and PET-made goods, noting that as nylon prices continue to increase, “PET as a recycled fiber becomes a very competitive alternative.”
But money isn’t everything, he said. These earth-friendly initiatives have brought “excitement” to Mohawk Home’s workplace.
“The people who we have here on staff go home at night and feel good about what they are doing,” he said. “We get a very personal contribution from our associates about what we are doing with Greenworks. They come to us very full of ideas, and those ideas come from a side of an individual you don’t always get to see in an employer-employee relationship. We’re getting that because they personally care about this effort.”
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