What Is ‘Cradle to Cradle’?

Remember in science class, where we learnt that in nature, when a tree or animal dies or creates waste, it breaks down and becomes food and nutrients for things to grow again? Where waste isn’t waste, but reused and serves a purpose. This is what many of us hope for now in business, too. An economy, system or supply chain that creates zero waste may sound out of reach. But in fact, it is becoming more and more desirable, valued and achievable through innovative designs, shift and change in the mindsets of the consumers, corporate leaders, designers and scientists. Together we can achieve a circular economy with “cradle to cradle” products. 

The term ‘cradle to cradle’ is exactly what it sounds like. A life cycle that goes from the beginning (the cradle) to cradle again, rather than the grave. Instead of the typical process of cradle to grave, the approach of cradle to cradle is to have a cyclical, circular loop. Cradle to cradle is therefore a sustainable business strategy that attempts to reuse the waste and eliminate the whole concept of waste altogether. Sounds pretty fantastic!

"Cradle to Cradle is one of the key schools of thought underpinning the circular economy framework."

— Andrew Morlet, CEO of Ellen MacArthur Foundation

In order to do this, the way the product is designed and made is very important. The way it works in nature has to be kept in mind when designing, so that it is actually possible to reabsorb the materials or ‘waste’ back into the system and reuse them. With this kind of approach, industries will be able to protect and limit harm to ecosystems.

"Cradle to cradle design refocuses product development from a process aimed at limiting end-of-pipe liabilities to one geared to creating safe, healthful, high-quality products right from the start."

— William McDonough and Michael Braungart

We all want a better future for our planet and having a circular economy is one way to do that. With creativity, better designs, research, new innovations and a change in mindset – of the businesses and the consumers – cradle to cradle products and a circular economy will be highly possible!

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