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Chapter 14: Cradle to Cradle in:

Joachim H. Becker, Sven Pastoors, Ulrich Scholz, Rob van Dun

Towards Sustainable Innovation, page 263 - 274

A five step approach to sustainable change

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3903-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6655-3, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828866553-263

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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259 chapter 14: cradle to cradle Joachim Becker Summary The Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) principle is based on the concept ‘waste is food’. All used materials should, after their use in one product, be applied usefully in the next product. While doing so there should be no loss of quality and all remains should either be re-used or environmentally neutral by design. Then the cycle is complete: waste is food. The Cradle-to-Cradle principle continues and would like to foresee in our needs, but also foresee future generation in more possibilities. Thus, Cradle-to-Cradle focuses on the development of ecologically effective products. These products are than a significant part of a sustainable recycling system. Therefore, the materials provided for the production of the goods must be recyclable or biologically compostable. In doing so, the Cradle to Cradle framework takes the following four areas, also known as the “four golden rules”, into consideration: 260 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation 1. Waste equals food 2. The sun is our income 3. Air, water and soil resources must not be harmful 4. Celebrate diversity Companies can be granted certification in the framework of the Cradle-to-Cradle principle. Cradle-to-Cradle products must contain environmentally safe, healthy and recyclable (or compostable) materials. Further requirements are the use of renewable energy, the responsible handling of water and social aspects during the production and distribution of products. The certificate is valid for two years. In the subsequent recertification, the product quality is confirmed or there is the possibility of achieving a higher certification grade through advancements. The Cradle-to-Cradle certification gives companies the opportunity to present their success and progress of their sustainable involvement with respect to Cradle-to-Cradle design of their products. From the customer’s point of view, products can be specifically requested that fulfil a higher-quality standard. 14.1 cradle to cradle as the new philosophy of sustainable innovation Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) is an innovative and integral approach to sustainability, which is not based on reduction, but rather on unlimited reuse of raw materials. “With the aid of the Cradle-to-Cradle concept the intelligence of natural systems should be used to develop new products, and a peaceful coexistence of economy and nature should be possible.” (Günther, 2014) This definition should be the basis of further explanations. 261 Chapter 14: Cradle to Cradle The term C2C philosophy was first coined by Michael Braungart and William McDonough (1989-1991). In the book “Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” (Braungart/McDonough, 2002, p. 15) they describe the C2C vision used in the production of all products. According to Cradle-to-Cradle, ecologically effective products should be developed. These products are part of a sustainable recycling system. The materials provided for the production of the goods must be recyclable or compostable. All production processes should be completely harmless for both humans and nature. Braungart says that people should act in a way that is beneficial for other material cycles. Thus, all products should function in the material cycle in a way that “there is no useless waste, but rather only useful raw materials.” (Braungart, 2014) For this, the building blocks of the C2C design are the use of renewable energy, the maintenance of the recycling economy, and the 100 % recyclability of the biological and technical materials. There is only up-cycling, no down-cycling. This could lead, for example, to the following products: • Fully compostable t-shirts. • Office chair that can be disassembled into its initial materials, which can then serve as raw materials for a new product without reduction in quality. • Buildings that produce energy, improve the climate and after demolition can be returned to the technical and biological cycles. The global population is growing “according to UN estimations from the current seven billion to nine billion people in the year 2050” (Friedrich, 2013, p. 13). One result of this growth is that raw materials are becoming scarcer and more expensive. According to Friedrich, 58.5 % of the entire turnover of a manufacturing company is used for the material inventory in the production. From this number, the extent of savings for the company can be assessed easily, if the materials can be used more effectively and repeatedly (Friedrich, 2013, p. 13). 262 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation A natural utilisation cycle is created in the scope of the Cradle-to- Cradle concept. There is no waste in the traditional sense of the word, as waste is seen as “food” for new products. At the core of this concept is the idea that all materials can be useful. Materials and material flows are designed in a way that recycling is either biologically or technically possible. According to Braungart, the principle “quality before quantity” can be applied to every industrial system. In order to achieve this, it is necessary that the production uses renewable energies. Moreover, natural resources, such as air, water and soil should be used very carefully. Furthermore, social-ethical components have an effect in the framework of the Cradle-to-Cradle approach. 14.2 The four golden rules of cradle to cradle The Cradle to Cradle framework takes the following four areas, also known as the “four golden rules”, into consideration: 1. Waste equals food 2. The sun is our income 3. Air, water and soil resources must not be harmful 4. Celebrate diversity Waste equals food Everything should be produced in such a way that large parts and a high proportion of the processed resources can be recycled. This applies to foodstuffs, textiles and technological products. In doing so, two important material cycles are analysed: the biological cycles for biological nutrients, and the technological cycle for technical nutrients. 263 Chapter 14: Cradle to Cradle Fig.14.1: Comparison of the biological and technical cycles The resulting cycles are an important element of the core rule that “waste equals food”. In the framework of the biological cycle, it has to be observed that plant-based resources can be industrially processed in order to be returned to the organic cycle after use: e.g. textiles are composed of 100% natural fibres that can be composted after use. The resulting compost is then used for growing more plants again. A natural perpetual motion is created in which the respective resources are available without limitation. 264 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation Fig. 14.2: Biological system in the Cradle to Cradle Model Source: EPEA 2014. The same approach can also be extended to technological products. The technological cycle is constructed in a similar way to the biological cycle: Fig. 14.3: Technical system in the Cradle-to-Cradle Model Source: EPEA 2014. The aim of this approach is to develop products in such a way that products can be produced modularly, and the individual components can be exchanged when required. An example of this approach is the Herman Miller chair, which is produced with up to 96 % from recycled materials. With help of the presented cycle, the production 265 Chapter 14: Cradle to Cradle develops from a linear “take-make-waste-system” to a circular system in which materials and resources are always re-used. Products are no longer made to be disposed of after a relatively short life-span. After their use, they are further developed to create new products. For this approach to succeed, a feasible and effective recycling system is necessary. “Replenish: “Creating a win-win-win-win for consumers, manufacturers, retailers and our environment” While ironing his shirts one day, Jason Foster was struck by a bolt of creativity. He imagined designing a new kind of bottle, with a reusable upper bottle attached to a replaceable concentrate refill pod. The intent of this radical design? To usher in a new era of “easy to mix with water” cleaning concentrates that are affordable, convenient and dramatically less wasteful. According to Replenish, “The single-use mind-set costs consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted energy and plastic spent on transporting and packaging water that could easily be added at home instead of in the factory.” However, consumers historically have avoided concentrates because they aren’t that easy to use. To create the Replenish Refillable Bottle System, Foster worked with experts to develop a new manufacturing approach and to find materials durable enough for many cycles of reuse. With help from the originators of the certification program, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), Foster created and branded a 99 percent plant-derived, nontoxic and pH-neutral multi-surface cleaner and sold it using Replenish’s Refillable Bottle system. The strategy was successful and Replenish announced its award of C2C gold certification in 2011.” Source: Lumsden, 2014. The sun is our income A further important rule of the Cradle-to-Cradle approach is the use of natural energy. This means that the energy used has to be from renewable sources as much as possible. In this regard, Braungart pro- 266 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation poses an increased use of an almost inexhaustible energy source like the sun. This does not only include solar energy (photovoltaic), but also wind power – which arises from thermals resulting from sunlight – and biomass – which is solar energy saved in plants. However, it must be ensured that this energy production is not “bought” using heavy metals in the production of these systems (e.g. solar panels, wind turbines et cetera.). According to the Cradle-to-Cradle approach, all the energy reserves used at present are saved on earth as oil and gas. In the future, it will be about using natural energy sources directly in the form of solar, wind and water energy. Air, water and soil resources must not be harmful According to these specifications, companies are not allowed to use raw materials (and production technologies) for production that might contribute to the pollution of air, water and soil. Therefore, companies have to ensure that ecologically problematic raw materials are replaced by safe and ecological alternatives. The natural and ecological balance must be protected. Production technologies have to be adapted to these requirements. The aim is to reduce the ecological footprint in every area of the company’s activities. This begins with the selection of raw materials and energy resources that the companies use in the value-adding process. This equally involves production and logistics, as well as the disposal of residual wastes. “Designtex: A fabric that helps strawberries grow, with production methods that clean water There is more concern lately about fashion and its impact on human health, the environment and workers. Susan Lyons of the New Yorkbased design firm Designtex was ahead of the curve. In 1993, she decided to develop a collection of ecological fabrics. At that time, no one knew exactly what a “green” fabric should be. 267 Chapter 14: Cradle to Cradle A partnership then emerged among Designtex; William Mc- Donough and his colleague, Michael Braungart; and the Swiss textile mill Rohner to develop upholstery with remnants that would not be considered hazardous waste. Braungart analysed more than 8,000 chemical formulations commonly used in textile production, then selected a mere 38 that he deemed safe for human and environmental health. These were the dyes and process chemicals allowed to be used in the production of Climatex upholstery. According to Designtex, optimizing this chemistry changed the mill’s water release, which became cleaner than the incoming water. By producing new fabrics designed to decompose safely, the mill saved scraps and turned them into felt, avoiding costly disposal fees. Local strawberry farmers used this felt as ground cover for their crops. Designtex has expanded its Climatex offering to some 20 styles and Climatex was awarded Gold level C2C certification.” Source: Lumsden, 2014. Celebrate diversity This aspect of the Cradle-to-Cradle approach focuses on both the care of flora and fauna, and cultural diversity. From this perspective, cultural diversity creates a rich and varied world, where more options are available for humans, and different human abilities and values are to be respected. For this reason, the focus on diversity is a major driving force for the sustainable development of communities, populations and nations. Cultural diversity unfolds in a framework of democracy, tolerance, social justice and mutual respect for people and cultures. It is a prerequisite for peace and security on a local, national and international level. The respect of cultural diversity is a prerequisite for full realisation of the “general declaration of human rights” and other generally recognised agreements. 268 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation 14.3 certification of the cradle-to-cradle principle Companies can receive certification in the framework of the Cradleto-Cradle principle. With the Cradle-to-Cradle certificate, the nonprofit Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) in California/USA labels the products. These products must contain environmentally safe, healthy and recyclable (or compostable) materials. Further prerequisites are the use of renewable energy, the responsible handling of water and social aspects during the production and distribution of products. The criteria for certification are: • Material evaluation • Recyclability in technical or biological cycles. • Energy management during production • Water management during production • Maintenance of social standards at the production location The certificate is valid for two years. In the subsequent recertification the product quality is confirmed or there is the possibility of achieving a higher certification grade through further advancements. The C2C certificate provides companies with the opportunity to present their success and progress of their sustainable involvement with respect to Cradle-to-Cradle design of their products. From the customer’s point of view, products can be specifically requested that fulfil a higher-quality standard. According to Braungart, the Cradle-to-Cradle approach is inspired by natural utilisation cycles in which there are no problems with “waste” or wastage. The term “waste” is newly defined here and understood as “food” for something new. The Cradle-to-Cradle approach transfers the principle according to Braungart of “quality before quantity” to industrial systems. Materials and material flows should be designed in a way that they are useful for the regeneration and maintenance of their biological and technical sources. 269 Chapter 14: Cradle to Cradle Training questions: 1. Define and explain the Cradle-to-Cradle approach. 2. Name and explain the basic components of the Cradle-to- Cradle approach. 3. Name the “four golden rules” which are taken into account in the C2C framework. 4. Explain the “four golden rules” of the C2C framework in detail. 5. The sun is our income. Name three exploitation possibilities of this energy source. 6. Define Cradle 2 Cradle with the car industry as practical example. Recommended literature Braungart, Michael/McDonough, William (2002): Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, New York. Friedrich, Karoline (2013): Mit weniger mehr erreichen, in: Reflex Verlag: Nachhaltiges Deutschland, 2013/12/05. Leonard, A. (2010): The Story of Stuff, Berlin. Internet resources Braungart, Michael (2014): Vision. Online: http://www.braungart. com/de/content/vision, last access on 22.12.2014. Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency – EPEA (2014): Cradle to Cradle. Online: Epea.com 270 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation Günther, Edeltraud (2014): Cradle to Cradle, Online: wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de Lumsden, Florence (2014): Cradle to Cradle: 4 success stories, from countertops to fabrics, 20.03.2014. Online: https://www.greenbiz. com/blog/2014/03/20/4-cradle-cradle-certified-product-breakthroughs

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Zusammenfassung

With sustainability having gained a lot of momentum over the last years and companies implementing strategies to create corporate sustainability, there are lots of opportunities for innovation. Thus, the two concepts of sustainability and innovation should not be considered separately – they are closely interlinked with one another. The main goal of sustainable innovation is to develop new products and technologies that have a positive impact on the company’s triple-bottom-line. To meet this aim, they have to be ecologically and economically beneficial as well as socially balanced.

In order to help companies to improve their sustainable innovation process practically, this book is structured into five possible phases of a sustainable innovation process:

Awareness of a sustainability problem

Identification & Definition of the problem

Ideation & Evaluation of the solutions

Testing & Enrichment of the solutions

Implementation of the solutions & Green Marketing