ZWC 2014 Bridgett Luther – Cradle to Cradle: A New Paradigm for Production

Over 200 companies and 2000 products are now approved by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. But what does this certification mean? Institute president Bridgett Luther offers an overview of the principles behind the label.

Luther opens her presentation with a simple definition.

“Cradle to Cradle… is about our ‘stuff’,” she notes, “but it’s also about how we make our stuff.”

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute certifies that the way companies produce that stuff also makes the world better, by designing for cycles, designing for reuse, and designing for environmental safety.

“One of my biggest concerns with all this 3-D printing is that we are going to start recycling toxins,” says Luther. “We don’t want to do that, and with Cradle to Cradle you wouldn’t do that.”

Continuous, Abundant, Diverse

Luther adds that the certification process is a continuous process and design within its parameters is about abundance. The three design principles the Institute espouses are:

  1. Eliminate the concept of waste
  2. Use renewable energy
  3. Celebrate diversity

“The world gets a lot happier if we are sharing,” says Luther, “if we are designing for reuse. And not only are you going to eliminate the concept of waste (within the Cradle to Cradle framework) you are also going to use renewable energy. We are also going to celebrate the diversity of skills and talents we find in our communities today.”

The Next Revolution

Luther says the next Industrial Revolution has already begun, pointing out that over 200 companies and 2000 products have participated in the Cradle to Cradle certification process. Some of the notable participants include Aveda with personal care and home cleaning products, Highland Craftsman bark shingles, Alcoa’s forged aluminum wheels for motor vehicles and trailers, the Aeron Chair from Herman Miller, and Revive-Bio garments from Belgian fashion store JBC. While these companies are the early adopters of the cradle to cradle ethos, Luther points out that making the first step towards a general adoption of the principles doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking.

“With the circular economy, the path is there. We don’t even have to invent it.”

Learn more: Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

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