Wouldn't it be amazing if products didn't harm the environment-or people-when produced, used, or discarded? We think so, yet there are very few companies taking all of this into consideration in the design of their product or service. Cradle to Cradle is trying to change this, and it's working.
What is Cradle to Cradle Certification?
When William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart started looking into regenerative design, they noticed a few things. Our design is often wasteful, - at all stages, resource extraction, production, use, and disposal - can be harmful, and is environmentally detrimental. This led them to do some research, and develop a new way of designing products and services: Cradle to Cradle. Originally a proprietary system, they have now released it to the public through the not for profit, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
Through this organization, they have certified nearly 500 products and counting. This is big news, not only because companies are taking steps to reduce their impact, but because of what is required for C2C certification!
What does “Cradle to Cradle” really mean?
Cradle to Cradle is a design framework. The framework seeks to create production techniques that are not just efficient but are essentially waste free. In cradle-to-cradle production, all material inputs and outputs are seen either as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients composted or consumed.
To summarize, Cradle to Cradle is a way of designing things so there is no waste. Ever.
Anything used to create a product, and everything that results from a product (consumption/byproduct) should be continually reused. There is no waste. This reuse can be in the form of upcycling, recycling, composting, or any other process that brings it back into future products/systems.
How does C2C Certification work?
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has two main certification options: Material Health Certified, and Cradle to Cradle Certified. Products are assessed on five levels and deemed one of five categories in this rigorous certification. The categories range from basic to platinum, based on the lowest of each of the five levels.
To put it simply, if a product is Cradle to Cradle certified, you can be certain that not only is the company making sustainability a priority, but they are taking major action and holding themselves accountable.
How can this be integrated into your business?
There are many ways to try to integrate this certification into your business. If you are a retailer, you can be on the lookout for C2C products with which to stock your shelves-this will not only make your customers happy, but support the companies taking proactive approaches to sustainability. If you make products or offer services, you can inquire with an assessor and get started on the certification process.
Most importantly, if you have the choice between a C2C product and an uncertified one, go for the sustainable option. It will give validation and support to the company taking sustainability into their own hands. That is the greatest impact we can all have on a daily basis!