The cradle to cradle movement is one of the rare manifestation of ideas which were first described in a book. The authors of the book ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things’, first wrote about the way production of things should change, starting from the cradle, i.e. the beginning to the end of the life cycle, and continuing till the product can be recycled or reused again. Their ideas gave rise to the Cradle to Cradle Products Standard and more than 200 companies have used this method to produce environment-friendly products, which are also beneficial for their bottom line.
Elements of the Cradle to Cradle standard
This standard evaluates products across five main categories:
This is the beginning of the process when the key materials or ingredients of a product is analyzed and if required, optimized for better/safer eco-friendly materials. The materials are classified as technical or biological nutrients. Then, it is determined if chemical hazards might combine with exposures to produce potential harmful impact to human health as well as the environment.
The process involves designing products which are made from materials that originate and return to industry or nature. This step also involves the maximization of the percentages of materials which are rapidly renewable or increasing the content of the recyclable material in a product. Material which can be reused safely, composted or recycled at the end of the product’s lifecycle is included in the manufacturing. The product is then designated as either biological (which can return to the natural environment safely) or technical (which can be used for other industrial purposes).
Carbon Management and Renewable energy
In this category, manufacturers are directed to envision a manufacturing process which is powered by completely (100%) renewable energy. Manufactrers are urged to source green, renewable electricity which would help to offset the final carbon emissions.
The quality of water stewardship tries to ensure the efficient management of water, viewing it as a human right, and not a just precious resource. It also measures the local geographic as well as industry’s water impact at the manufacturing facility. The industrial chemicals in a manufacturing unit’s effluent are identified, assessed and optimized.
Operations are designed in a way which honors all natural systems and people, which are affected by the production, use, disposal and reuse of a particular product. Manufacturers have to use resources which are recognized globally, to conduct their own self-assessments, in order to identify the local as well as supply chain problems. Third party audits also have to be conducted to assure/confirm optimal conditions. The company or manufacturer has to try to make a difference in the employees’ lives as well as the local community.
Why is it important
The Cradle to Cradle certification is now a trusted mark for decision makers when they select eco-friendly materials for buildings, production of personal care and beauty products, furniture, apparel, office and home supplies and many more product categories.
LEEDS too rewards using Cradle to Cradle certified products, due to the various risk assessments and the stringent measures taken to improve products which are friendlier to the environment.
Also, if you are a manufacturer, your cost of getting a product this green certification is reduced as you can obtain a certification for an entire product range, or multiple products which have similar or same ingredients and end use.
By obtaining this certification, you get more customers as well as the satisfaction of doing something good for the planet.
How do you join the Cradle-Cradle movement
You have to get your products assessed by independent organizations which are qualified and trained by the Cradle to Cradle Institute. After this step, the assessment report will be reviewed by the Cradle to Cradle Institute, which would determine whether your product meets the standard requirements of the Institute. Your product would also be authorized to use the certification and logo.
The importance of Cradle-Cradle is great as it is a stringent standard set up for an eco-friendly production process from beginning to end, benefiting the environment, end users and the local people, while promoting clean, renewable energy sources.