Understanding Why ‘Cradle to Cradle’ Means Waste Free

At Green Mountain Energy, we pride ourselves on offering renewable energy to our consumers. This means less impact on our environment for a product as necessary as electricity. But what about other essential products like hand soap, shampoo and laundry detergent?

Companies in the business of manufacturing consumer goods are more environmentally aware than ever before. They focus on efficiency, streamlining processes and doing more with less. Some have even successfully implemented a cradle-to-cradle framework for production where their techniques are essentially waste free.

All material inputs or outputs are seen as either technical or biological nutrients in cradle-to-cradle production. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality while biological nutrients are composted or consumed.

In 2010, the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute was founded by McDonough and Braungart to develop a product certification standard evaluating products in five quality categories: 1) material health 2) material reutilization 3) renewable energy and carbon management 4) water stewardship 5) social fairness.

Products can achieve Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels of achievement. And every two years, manufacturers must demonstrate improvement efforts for their products in order to be recertified.

Certification is not easily achieved. In the article 8 Companies Going Cradle-to-Cradle, you’ll learn why Method and Aveda were certified at the Gold level. Find out if your favorite product or manufacturer has a cradle-to-cradle scorecard in the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Registry.