'Waste is Simply a Valuable Resource in the Wrong Place'

| By Jacqueline Plaster & Leon Kirschgens

These words belong to the Cradle to Cradle® concept, which opposes today's take-make-waste model and describes a model in which all materials are always kept in cycles – in a biological or technical one.

The Cradle to Cradle concept or design framework was developed in the 1990s by German chemist Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart and U.S. architect William McDonough and EPEA Hamburg. Cradle to Cradle means "from the origin to the origin" or as the name implies "from the cradle to the cradle" and is also referred to as 2C2C, C2C or regenerative design. It is a design inspired by nature and describes materials and nutrients which are always and continuously kept in cycles. But how can that work out?

According to C2C, almost all products that we know and produce today are created according to the take-make-waste model and thus have the stamp 'waste' on their foreheads. The term waste was therefore more or less invented by us humans. But if we would act according to the C2C concept, there is no waste, because all materials are seen as recyclable and useful nutrients.

In 2012, in line with the concept, the Cradle to Cradle e.V. association (C2C NGO) was founded. C2C NGO is a non-profit organization working to connect business, education, science, politics and civil society. The goal: spreading a consistent circular economy that begins with product design. A distinction is made between two raw material cycles and associated goods: the biological cycle, which includes consumer goods, and the technical cycle, which includes consumer durables.

But how are these consumer goods defined? Consumer goods count as goods that are subject to wear and tear, such as clothing. Recyclable T-shirts or biodegradable shoe soles, for example, do not pose a problem for the environment, as they can be returned to the biological cycle after consumption - they therefore circulate in a Biosphere, the waste being used as a nutrient. It is different with consumer goods - they can circulate in technical cycles, as they are not exposed to wear and tear. This means that they can easily be returned to the Technosphere.


"When soap not only cleans our skin but also keeps our water clean, Cradle to Cradle is a reality."



But the goal goes beyond all these ideas: it is not only to minimize negative influences, but also to leave a positive footprint. It is about rethinking products – products, that are healthy for the environment and safe for humans at the same time.


Read more about it on EPEA, the C2C NGO association or watch the following video :-)