Cradle to Cradle Design (sometimes abbreviated to C2C, or Cradle 2 Cradle, or in some circles referred to as regenerative) is a bio-mimetic approach to the design of systems. It models human industry on nature’s processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature’s biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials. Put simply, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially waste free. The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many different aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems.
Cradle to Cradle means going beyond what most people define as sustainability.
The term ‘C2C Certification’ is a protected term of the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) consultants. It is a proprietary system of certification. The phrase “Cradle to Cradle” itself was coined by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s, and the current model is based on a system of “Iifecycle development” initiated by Michael Braungart and colleagues at the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) in the 1990s and explored through the publication A Technical Framework for Life-Cycle Assessment. In partnership with Braungart, William McDonough released the publication Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things in 2002, which is an effective manifesto for Cradle to Cradle Design that gives specific details of how to achieve the model. The model has been implemented by a number of companies, organisations and governments around the world , predominantly in the European Union, China and the United States. Cradle to Cradle has also been the subject matter of many documentary films, including the critically acclaimed “Waste=Food”.
In the Cradle to Cradle model, all materials used in industrial or commercial processes-such as metals, fibers, dyes–are seen to fall into one of two categories: “technical” or “biological” nutrients. Technical nutrients are strictly limited to non-toxic, non-harmful synthetic materials that have no negative effects on the natural 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 over and over again instead of being “downcycled” into lesser products, ultimately becoming waste. Biological Nutrients are organic materials that, once used, can be disposed of in any natural environment and decompose into the soil, providing food for small life forms without affecting the natural environment. This is dependent on the ecology of the region; for example, organic material from one country or landmass may be harmful to the ecology of another country or landmass.