_Cradle to Cradle Mindset

The Cradle to Cradle® design principle is inspired by nature: The aim is not only to minimize negative influences, but also to leave a positive footprint. The result is products, processes, buildings and cities that are safe for people, healthy for the environment and successful for business.

What doesn't stay in circulation ends up as trash:

_Rethink products

Cradle to Cradle® is a design principle developed in the 1990s by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, William McDonough and EPEA Hamburg. It stands for innovation, quality and good design. Translated, it means “From cradle to cradle” and describes the safe and potentially infinite circulation of materials and nutrients in cycles. All ingredients are chemically safe and recyclable. Waste in today's sense, as produced by the previous “take-make-waste” model, no longer exists. Instead, only usable nutrients exist.

Consumer goods, such as natural fibers, cleaning agents or biodegradable packaging, circulate in the biological cycle, which can be safely returned to the same circle after use. They become compost or other nutrients, which are used to create new products. The waste of an old product thus becomes “food” for a new product.

Consumer goods, such as electronics or floors, circulate in the technical cycle. These products are already being optimized during the design and manufacturing process as resources for the next phase of use. After use, materials can be broken down into pure raw materials and fed back into a technical cycle. In doing so, their material quality is retained and downcycling with loss of quality is avoided.

Eco-effectiveness instead of efficiency

_The mindset

Companies usually do everything they can to reduce their environmental impact (ecological footprint) as efficiently as possible — a “zero-emission” or “free-from” strategy is oftentimes sought after. However, strategies should not revolve around being less bad but around being good. An eco-effective business model aims at qualitative added value. This is made possible by the Cradle to Cradle® mindset:

Nutrients remain nutrients
All products should be designed in such a way that they are useful for reuse. Either in the biosphere or in the technosphere. The concept of waste is becoming superfluous.

Using renewable energy
All processes require energy. This energy should be provided in a renewable way. Wind power, hydropower and the sustainable use of biomass are also other sources of energy.

Supporting diversity
Natural systems function and thrive through complexity, so nature promotes an almost infinite variety and makes systems flexible and resilient at the same time. Through a transfer to our economic and value system, cultural, social and conceptual diversity is promoted and regional solutions are preferred.

    Michael Braungart

    _Man on a Mission

    Since the early 1980s, the chemist and process engineer has been working for a world without waste. Whether at Greenpeace, EPEA, the Hamburg Environmental Institute or various universities — concrete solutions to complex environmental problems have always been developed. Get to know Michael Braungart in the documentary “Changemaker”, which aired in 2016, which provides insights into his work with the Cradle to Cradle® design principle.

    More about Michael Braungart