Cradle to Cradle founder Braungart on products without a guilty conscience

Cradle to Cradle calls for a revolutionary innovation in our products in terms of design, production, use and return. The result is a world without rubbish.

Interview with Prof. Dr Michael Braungart

cradle2cradle a concept of innovation and future
Source & Copyright by Freepik

Author: House of Eden

Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is a circular economy approach designed by the German chemist Michael Braungart and the American architect William McDonough. The C2C system is based on the approach that all materials can be recycled. The result: a world without rubbish!

A distinction is made between biological and technical cycles. In the case of consumer goods, the "biological nutrients" are returned to the biological cycle after they have been used up and thus returned to nature as compost. In the case of consumer goods, the “technical nutrients” are returned to the technical cycle, ie to the manufacturers, where the valuable resources can be recycled.

cradle2cradle

Source & Copyright EPEA

In contrast to classic recycling, this recycling does not reduce the quality. In this way, resources are not lost, but are always "food" for a new product. The principle of waste is being redefined, because something new is born from everything, hence the name Cradle to Cradle, literally translated "from cradle to cradle".

In addition to this so-called “nutrient remains nutrient” principle, the use of renewable energies and the promotion of cultural and biological diversity play a major role. Together they represent the three principles of the C2C design concept.

With us, Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, former Greenpeace activist, explains why sustainability is pure debt management and why Cradle to Cradle must be understood as an opportunity for innovation.

Sustainability is pure debt management

Sustainability makes the wrong things perfect. We don't protect the environment by driving less cars or generating less waste, we just destroy less. However, there are far too many people in the world for less destruction. So there is no point in making the plastic bottle 2 grams lighter or making recycled bags from plasticized PVC. Optimizing the same things to make them less harmful or lighter has the effect of doing the wrong things perfectly, and thus they are perfectly wrong.

The C2C approach therefore aims to reinvent things, think differently and design them differently. It's about making things useful. This has nothing to do with classic sustainability. Because it's not about improving what already exists. So what we need is better plastic and other plastics that can be fed back into biological systems.

Cradle to Cradle - an innovation concept about benefits

German mechanical engineering will no longer exist in the future as it is today, because people basically do not need machines, only the use of the machine. We don't consume a washing machine or a television, but the service behind it. Nobody really needs to own the washing machine.

However, digital thinking for such concepts is not yet available. The digital world needs defined usage times, then companies know when materials are available again. It's the opposite of the idea of ​​longevity.

cradle2cradle

Source & Copyright by Napapijri

As a material bank, companies can reduce costs

According to the C2C approach, according to the sharing or deposit principle, companies make the use of the machines available to consumers for a certain period of time. The machines are then taken back by the manufacturers through a corresponding take-back system. For example, 10.000 washes are sold to the customer. In this way, the materials can be returned to the technical cycle and valuable raw materials can be recycled.

Manufacturers can thus drastically reduce their costs and design better products right from the start using better materials. You no longer have to compete with cheap products from Asia. It is therefore a great prejudice that Cradle to Cradle products are more expensive. On the contrary, they are on average around 20% cheaper.

As a result, an innovative revolution in our products is required. Starting with the raw materials, through production, use and right through to taking back. The result is a world where waste is nutrient.

Tarkett cradle2cradle

Source & Copyright by Tarkett Bodendesign (C2C certified)

A new culture of generosity

The classic concept of sustainability makes the customer an enemy, because it propagates the renunciation of consumption, driven by a bad conscience. Quasi a feeling of guilt about your own existence. That makes people greedy. However, a cherry tree in spring does not avoid its fruits either, it does not reduce or minimize. The C2C approach therefore calls for intelligent waste.

We have to consume more in order to enable companies to develop new approaches and improve company processes step by step. For example through new water management and collection systems. The more that is bought, the faster this change can be achieved. It's about making things useful. In the Cradle to Cradle School of Thinking, humans are beneficial and part of nature.

Greta Thunberg only destroys the environment a little less

Cradle to Cradle is not a moral issue, but an innovation issue. C2C products are fundamentally more profitable and convert all the know-how from the environment and health into innovation, quality and beauty. The biggest mistake companies make is trying to optimize what they already have. But the environment is not protected if it is destroyed a little less.

Even Greta Thunberg doesn't protect the environment when she takes the train, it just destroys a little less. The chains of old thought patterns have to be broken in order to rethink and design everything from beginning to (new) beginning, from cradle to cradle.

11.000 Cradle to Cradle products

Every design school in the world now teaches Cradle to Cradle. There are now 11.000 certified C2C products and numerous Cradle to Cradle model regions, such as Bielefeld or East Westphalia. The Netherlands is a clear pioneer, but small towns and especially border regions such as South Tyrol are also on the way to becoming a model region.

In China, the approach is gaining ground rapidly, as people are used to thinking in cycles. There, however, there is no social discussion about environmental issues, for which an open and free society is a prerequisite.

Venlo City Hall

Source & Copyright by EPEA - Venlo C2C model region City Hall

Public demand as the most important driver

The young generation, millennials and Generation Z, will massively promote the Cradle to Cradle approach in the future. This selfie generation is devoid of criminal pedagogy, grew up with a broad sense of self-worth and therefore thinks differently. Their lifestyle doesn't need divine creation, they don't believe in property, they just want availability. They simply understand that garbage is negative and therefore avoiding garbage is a given. This generation will rapidly advance public demand for Cradle to Cradle. Everything else comes naturally.

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Interview with Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart

Professor Dr. Michael Braungart developed the Cradle-to-Cradle concept together with William McDonough. Braungart is the founder and scientific director of EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency Internationale), an international environmental research and advisory institute with headquarters in Hamburg. EPEA was founded by Greenpeace in 1987 to develop solutions to complex environmental problems. Since then, Braungart has been researching and advising on eco-effective products. Braungart is also professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and at the Leuphana University Lüneburg professor for eco-design as well as head of the Hamburg Environmental Institute.

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