Shaw Industries: Ecoworx and Cradle-to-Cradle Innovation in Carpet Tile

4 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Andrea Larson

Andrea Larson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jeff York

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

This is a minicase, one of 10 in a set of short cases written to illustrate the business benefits companies realize through adopting sustainable business strategies. This minicase documents the technology and systems innovations behind Shaw's successful introduction of closed loop recyclable carpet tiles (EcoWorx), a disruptive innovation in the flooring industry.

Excerpt

UVA-ENT-0095

SHAW INDUSTRIES:

ECOWORX AND CRADLE-TO-CRADLE INNOVATION IN CARPET TILE

In 1999 Shaw Industries, a Berkshire Hathaway company, pioneered fully recyclable PVC-free carpet tiles with a revolutionary new backing material called EcoWorx®. Within the highly competitive forces that are typically present in a mature and consolidating industry, EcoWorx raised the bar for durable goods manufacturers of all kinds. Supplier collaboration facilitated the technical innovations that allowed Shaw to produce carpet that was not only recyclable, but also maintained the properties of virgin material throughout the recycling process at a reduced cost. Reduced input costs were further boosted by manufacturing, transportation and handling savings resulting from a 40% reduction in the weight of the end product. Awarded a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2003, Shaw was recognized in its industry as an innovator.

History of Shaw and the Evolution of Technology

Founded in the boom years just after World War II, Shaw started out as a dye company and grew rapidly through the acquisition of other firms. Shaw Industries was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange until 2001, when it was purchased by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Along with its competitors in the floor covering markets, Shaw had seen many adaptations to technology and buyer preference changes.

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Keywords: Innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainable business, sustainability, triple bottom line, natural environment, environmental, ecology, ecological, strategy, implementation, financial returns, green, greening

Suggested Citation

Larson, Andrea and York, Jeff, Shaw Industries: Ecoworx and Cradle-to-Cradle Innovation in Carpet Tile. Darden Case No. UVA-ENT-0095. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1278409

Andrea Larson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/larson.htm

Jeff York

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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