This case looks at the challenges faced by Interface, a global carpet tile company, in pursuing its new climate change strategy. Since 1994, Interface had become a leader in sustainability and had initiated and implemented wide-ranging innovations in its products, activities and programmes to reduce the company’s environmental impact to zero (Mission Zero), while inspiring other companies to do the same. In 2016 Interface declared it was right on track to reach Mission Zero and started to define and develop its new mission and strategy, Climate Take Back, to be implemented after 2020 and which aimed to become restorative for the world’s climatic systems.
Geanne van Arkel, head of sustainability in the EMEA regional headquarters in Scherpenzeel, the Netherlands, contributed to Mission Zero and was now challenged to strategise for Climate Take Back in the EMEA region with her global colleagues. The new climate change strategy required innovative leadership, management and operations while exploring an unprecedented business challenge. This case thus explores and analyses the transition from an old climate change strategy to an even further-reaching strategy. The findings of the Special Report 'Global Warming of 1.5°C', released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018, reminded Interface of the pivotal importance of its strategy and urged the company to speed up the implementation of Climate Take Back in order to be able to help reverse global warming.
The case is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) case series of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. With a focus on SDG 13 (Climate Action), the case is also closely related to closely related to SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). Video learning materials and other resources about these SDGs are available at www.rsm.nl/sdgs.
1. Describe several sustainability strategies for companies who want to reduce their impact on the climate;
2. Discuss the benefits and costs of such strategies;
3. Formulate ways to implement a climate change strategy;
4. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of a climate change strategy;
5. Evaluate a climate strategy in connection with SDG 13 and sustainability intervention levels.
This case is targeted at Master students (MSc or MBA) and executive students of sustainability, strategy, leadership, and general management. It can also be used for teaching general strategic management.
Climate; carbon emission; global warming; industry; production; sourcing; innovation; strategy; leadership