Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is a sustainable design philosophy that models its business practices after the regenerative cycle found in nature. It applies the circular economy strategy wherein materials from discarded products are used to create new merchandise so that waste is eliminated and resources are reused for a very long time.
Within the Cradle to Cradle philosophy products and systems of production should be considerate of life, nature and future generations – from birth, or cradle, of one generation to the next, versus cradle to the grave within the same generation. The C2C approach suggests that industries must protect the planet’s ecosystem and enrich nature’s biological metabolism.
The benefits of the Cradle to Cradle method can be achieved by using high quality, durable products and by circulating organic and technical materials, minimizing the continuous harvest of raw materials from the planet. C2C incorporates the circular economy standard of a holistic, economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also waste-free.
The Cradle to Cradle model in a comprehensive sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing. It can be applied to many aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics, and social systems. Materials used in C2C industrial or commercial processes such as metals, fibers, dyes, fall into one of two categories: “technical” or “biological” nutrients.
Technical nutrients are limited to non-toxic, harmless synthetic materials that have no adverse effects on nature and the environment. They can be used in continuous cycles as the same product without losing their integrity or quality. In this manner, these materials can be used repeatedly instead of discarding them as waste that ends up in landfills.
Biological nutrients are biodegradable. Once used, they can be disposed of in any natural environment and decompose into the soil, providing food for small life forms without affecting the environment. This is dependent on the ecosystem of the region. For example, organic material from one region may be harmful to the ecology of another region or country.
Products manufactured according to the Cradle to Cradle method may be eligible to receive C2C certification. This type of circular economy model is being incorporated by more and more companies, organizations and governments worldwide, primarily in the US, China, and the EU.