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Cradle to Cradle®

Rethinking Production Processes

 Publication with friendly permission of © EPEA Switzerland GmbH

Cradle to Cradle® Logo - Cradle to Cradle® Design defines and develops cyclable products.

The Idea

Cradle to Cradle® Design defines and develops cyclable products.

In regard to differentiation to conventional recycling the quality level of the raw materials remains throughout multiple product lifecycles and only purely “assessed safe chemicals” are used.

The products are developed according the model to maintain the quality of raw materials over multiple life cycles taking the production processes, the use and the reutilization into account.
This means: No waste, all ingredients are considered as nutrients. The right materials are integrated in defined cycles (metabolism) at the right time and place.


The 3 Cradle to Cradle® principles:

1. Cycle: Waste = Food

2. Energy: use of renewable resources

3. Diversity


Nature as a model

Nature as a model reflects ongoing developments in a Cradle to Cradle® product: Flourishing trees in spring are only apparently redundant. From a few blossoms new trees are growing. All blossoms not used for growth, fall to the ground and become nutrients.

Nature as a model. Every single leaf serves as nutrient again. Nature as a model. Every single leaf serves as nutrient again.

Cradle to Cradle® Products reach a new quality dimension and distinguish themselves through high economic value as well as modest, ideally with no environmental damage. They achieve high consumer friendliness and are credentials of a paradigm change towards consumer behavior and in the industrial production. Cradle to Cradle® Design defines not only form, functionality and ingredients of a product. The goal is to strive for a new dimension in quality and safety in endless cycles. 


The 2 Systems: biological and technical cycles

BIOLOGICAL CYCLE

Consumer Goods (natural fibers, cosmetics, detergents, etc.) are designed so that they can be used in biological cycles over and over again. They decompose to organic nutrients and promote biological nutrients and systems such as plant growth. The renewable raw materials are in turn the basis for new products.


Cradle to Cradle®: Biological Cycle

TECHNICAL CYCLE

Service Products (TV sets, cars, synthetic fibers, etc.), the so-called technical nutrients, are separated to enable the production of new commodities after fulfilling their initial function. The users / consumers purchase only the relevant services, e.g. Television. The materials remain the property of the manufacturer, which retains them through collection and reenters them into the technical cycle.


Cradle to Cradle®: Technical Cycle

Topics Discussions

Cradle to Cradle® requires a “Paradigm Change” in relation to today’s predominant “Cradle to Grave” approach. Away from linear thinking towards a thinking in cycles. On numerous committees lively discussions are taking place around the world. Here are some complementary topics about Cradle to Cradle®.


Sustainability

Cradle to Cradle® and sustainability

Life Cycle Assessment

Cradle to Cradle® and life cycle assessment
Cradle to Cradle®: Eco-efficiency vs Eco-effectiveness

Eco-efficiency vs Eco-effectiveness

The terms “eco-efficiency” and “eco-effectiveness” are often lumped together. However, a world of difference separates them: Primarily eco-efficiency quantifies, defines problems to be reduced (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions) and eco-effectiveness qualifies in addition (e.g. use of carbon dioxide as nutrient).


Recycling - Upcycling

The conventional recycling mostly ends in down cycling

Maintaining the quality of materials and to integrate them into product design over multiple live cycles, remains to be an enormous challenge.

 

The conventional recycling mostly ends in down cycling, whereas inevitable residues remain and decreased quality occurs. Cradle to Cradle® however searches for strategies, how materials can remain in closed loops without loosing the quality of the materials.

Downcycling – Downcycling quality on the timeline.
Cradle to Cradle® – Cycling effective resources saving and resources conservation.


Cradle to Cradle®: materials remains in closed loops without loosing the quality of the materials.
Cradle to Cradle® and the circular economy approach

Circular Economy

The circular economy approach analyses the economics of recycling within a value added chain with the result to generate the recovered material as recycling revenues of materials in a mass material stream.
Cradle to Cradle® defines a quality preserving as well as an economical sound cycling revenue in the added value chain. The material reutilization of cyclable Cradle to Cradle® products enables to generate ideally revenues close to the acquisition price of materials. In case additional processing or cleaning costs occur, the material expenses are in any case lower than the market price.


The 4th dimension: from the linear to the cyclic material cycle

Traditionally, product design is based on optimizing functionality (technical and aesthetic performance) and manufacturing costs. Typically, three dimensions of a product are considered: height, length and width, or performance, aesthetics, price. However, a product is embedded in streams of material that move along a predetermined path that begins with the "picking", the "making" leads, and ends with the "throwing away" - with waste - unless the receipt of resources as additional Cradle to Cradle® design systematically integrates the production and distribution chain, so-called "time", as the fourth dimension of product quality. Materials are transformed and modified at various stages along these chains. Thus, a previously linear flow of material is converted into a cyclic. In this way, the value of all materials in biological or technical circuits is preserved.

Differentiation: Quality equal Quantity

Cradle to Cradle® Design transmits the principle “Quality equal Quantity” to industrial systems. Materials together with material flows are designed to be beneficial and useful for the regeneration and conservation of biological and technical resources. This approach liberates from the present obligation to diminish, reduce or slow down the need to negative environmental impacts.


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