Based on a Desso article published by Guardian Sustainable Business online (Circular Economics – new business model for our times, January 24, 2013).
In their classic book, Cradle to Cradle®: Re-making the Way We Make Things, Cradle to Cradle® co-founders Dr. Michael Braungart and William McDonough point to the cherry tree for its ability to reuse and recycle everything. They write that the blossoms that fall from the cherry tree might look like waste but in fact the “tree’s fecundity nourishes just about everything around it.”
Cradle to Cradle® thinking deals with the problem of global warming and toxicity in materials. Using current solar income, Cradle to Cradle® companies draw from renewable energy sources more and more.
It also deals with toxicity in materials that can harm both people and planet. One of the processes in Cradle to Cradle® is to assess your ‘material health’, meaning that you must analyse the chemical ingredients that go into the products you make against 19 human health and environmental criteria. Those elements that are considered risky by the tough standards of Cradle to Cradle® have to be eliminated or replaced.
Dow, Herman Miller and Steelcase are among a number of other companies assessing some of their products this way, all of which is now independently certified by the US-based Products Innovation Institute.
Finally, there is another important link between Cradle to Cradle® and health and wellbeing.
Having gone down this road, we know that it changes the mindset of people in the organisation. You start to think much more about the impact of your goods on people’s health. That is the very basis of going through Cradle to Cradle® certification.
For example, we developed the DESSO AirMaster® carpet that reduces the amount of fine dust in the indoor air.
In addition to the health and environmental benefits of this adoption – it makes good business sense. On a planet set to house over nine billion people by 2050, there will simply be less and less of the planet’s resources to go around. With one billion middle class consumers expected in the decades to come, we must find better processes to build the economy in a sustainable way.
Mike Barry, sustainability director at Marks & Spencer’s, summed it up succinctly at an annual WRAP conference in London at the end of 2012, saying that companies that did not adopt the circular economy would not be operational in the future.