Interface, a Georgia-based manufacturer of modular carpet tiles and flooring, was one of several winners of the 2016 Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) in Sustainable Oceans Management for its work to decrease marine pollution in coastal areas of the Philippines while improving local communities, the US Embassy in Manila announced over the weekend.

Interface launched Net-Works, a project to remove discarded nets from oceans to prevent marine life from getting caught in them. Net-Works encourages the recycling of these nets by providing payment to participants in the local community. The recycled nets provided by the program are sent to an Interface supplier, which uses the nylon found in the nets to produce 100-percent recycled carpet yarn. As of 2015, the program has operated in 26 communities and directly benefited more than 4,000 people.

The Net-Works project, which was started in 2012, is currently being carried out in communities in the Bantayan Islands, Danajon Bank, and in Northern Iloilo.

The Secretary of State has awarded the ACE each year since 1999 in order to recognize US companies representing American values in their business practices worldwide. Each of these companies is contributing to the growth and sustainable development of the local economies in which they work. In 2016, the four ACE categories include Inclusive Hiring Practices, Small or Medium Enterprise, Sustainable Oceans Management and Transparent Operations.

Interface and the other winners will be presented with the award at the annual ACE ceremony January 5, 2017, at 10:30 am Eastern Standard Time at the US State Department. The event will be globally streamed online at

Additional winners include:

Award for Corporate Excellence in Inclusive Hiring Practices: General Electric (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) and McDonald’s Deutschland (Berlin, Germany)

General Electric promotes inclusive hiring practices within Saudi Arabia by creating the country’s first all-women business services center, which now employs more than 1,000 Saudi and non-Saudi women, servicing a fifth of the company’s worldwide service needs.

McDonald’s Deutschland has led by example to support refugees in integrating into Germany’s society and workforce. In the last year alone, McDonald’s Deutschland has employed more than 900 refugees across the country.

• Award for Corporate Excellence in Small or Medium Enterprise: Andela (Lagos, Nigeria)

Andela has employed new techniques to create a cutting-edge training program that equips students to become elite software developers regardless of background. Andela pays its trainees above-market wages and provides accommodation, meals, healthcare, a computer and detailed instruction. Two hundred twenty former trainees are now employed as software developers, including 50 who are working with large international companies.

Award for Corporate Excellence in Sustainable Oceans Management: Bureo Inc. (Santiago, Chile) and Interface (Manila, Philippines)

Bureo designs and manufactures a unique line of sunglasses, skateboards and other sustainable products for the action sports industry, sourced from recycled fishing nets. They have launched a fishing net collection and recycling program, Net Positiva, to help tackle ocean plastic pollution. Through the program, Bureo has partnered directly with fishing communities across Chile and has recycled more than 55 tons of fishing nets.

• Award for Corporate Excellence in Transparent Operations: SociedadMinera Cerro Verde S.A.A. (Lima, Peru)

SociedadMinera Cerro Verde S.A.A is a mining company that puts transparency and stakeholder engagement at the core of their business model. Cerro Verde completed a $5.6 billion expansion in 2015, within budget and on schedule because of its policy of proactive and transparent consultation with local communities, and local municipal, regional and national governments. The expansion included a $1 billion investment in public water infrastructure that supplies not only the additional capacity required by the mine, but also potable water to 99 percent of residents and 100 percent of wastewater treatment to Peru’s second largest city of Arequipa.

The Department of State is committed to working with companies to further responsible business practices worldwide and to recognize their efforts to improve lives at home and abroad. For more information, please visit: