November 1, 2018

Mohawk Group Introduces a New Way to Look at Waste

Plastic waste—it’s all around us (and, according to a recent study, inside of us, too). While “reduce, reuse, recycle” may sound nice, a staggeringly low percentage of recyclable trash ends up getting repurposed into new products. Only 34.5% of recyclables make it to proper facilities. Put another way, approximately 80% of the items buried in landfills today could be recycled. 

The design industry, a heavy consumer of plastic-derived materials and products, is in a unique position to transform the world’s relationship with this troublesome invention. Flooring manufacturer Mohawk Group has taken up the cause with gusto, championing aggressive sustainability initiatives and rolling out products that are Living Product Challenge Petal-certified. In 2017 alone, parent company Mohawk Industries diverted more than 6.2 billion plastic bottles from the landfill to be made into carpet fiber used in both residential and commercial carpeting. Mohawk Group recently released a CEU intended to inspire and inform designers about new creative potentials for all types of waste, including plastics. 

Mohawk Group’s Mindful commercial carpet tile incorporates yarns manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. Photography courtesy of Mohawk Group.

Scrap Culture, authored by Royce Epstein, Mohawk Group’s design director, takes designers on a multi-disciplinary global exploration of the new ways waste can contribute to a sustainable future and beautify our spaces. Every kind of design practice, from fashion to furniture to product to fine art, is considered. Epstein did a run through of the CEU at Mohawk’s fifth annual Future Workplace Design (FWD) event last week, which was held at the company’s LEED and WELL-qualified New York City showroom.

A public rocking chair made out of 100 pounds of plastic trash. Photography courtesy of the New Raw.

“Today we live in an era called the Anthropocene, a relatively new geological era defined by human effects on the earth,” explained Epstein. “To combat this, the new way of thinking in the design industry is ‘everything is a resource for something else’. This is how nature works, and as humans we should be thinking in this biomimetic way.”

By the end of the presentation, designers in the audience fully embraced the idea of Scrap Culture.

“Sustainability and responsible use of natural resources, even without the plaques and accolades, is becoming less of a design feature and more of a design standard,” noted Rob Labrecque of ZGF Architects.

Rag Chair by Tejo Remy of Droog. This chair repurposes old teeshirts and fabric waste
into a comfortable place to relax. Photo courtesy of Droog.

“The next generation’s creativity in identifying the root of a problem and focusing on easy-to-implement solutions was really inspiring!” chimed in Michelle deBrestian, of IA Architects.

“So many of the artists and designers showcased in the Scrap Culture presentation were not driven by money or financial backing—only the need to do better,” said Karie Vagedes of Huntsman Architectural Group. “Those are the people that change the world and inspire others to follow.”

After the lecture, designers were treated to a first look at how Mohawk Group is embracing Scrap Culture in their own product line. This new collection ties in with Mohawk’s larger efforts to offset even more plastic waste and the brand’s carbon footprint as part of an industry-leading, aggressive sustainability agenda.

To request a Scrap Culture CEU in your region, please contact your local Mohawk Group rep.

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