Path to Cradle to Cradle Certified™ – #1 How to “Do the Homework”?

In this post:
How do you “Do the Homework”? You start by finding help……

There are two posts, after this one:
2. Work with your Assessor to collect the Data = the Homework
The principles/standards of the Home Work….
Case studies
3. Cost
Private Label Trademark Licensing with C2C Certification
…a list at the bottom of other posts the talk about Cradle to Cradle Certified™

picture above: Trigema Organic Cotton Apparel

Mr. Kälin

There is a story to tell…..  
How does one get ready to register for the Cradle to Cradle™ Certification?

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In 2009, Mr. Albin Kälin, founded EPEA Switzerland, one of 15 firms worldwide that are accredited general assessors for the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ certification.  He has agreed to help me describe what this path to a C2C certificate is like. His story is rather interesting………..

Disrupt or Close up

Mr. Albin Kälin has been living this C2CC process for more than 25 years…..  In 1992, he began with an early experience as managing director of Rohner Textil AG.  This textile mill in Switzerland was in an “innovate or die” situation.  So said the Swiss Government.   

About that same time, a customer, DesignTex of the Steelcase Corporation, introduced this textile mill to one of the Cradle to Cradle originators, the architect, William McDonough, who then introduced them to his partner, the chemist, Professor Michael Braungart. Altogether they developed an environmentally-conscious and innovative product line and one of the first internationally-recognised Cradle to Cradle® textiles: Climatex®   The Swiss Government was satisfied. This complete manufacturing change and new textile line earned the Rohner Textil AG mill no less than 19 international design awards during the 1990s and the European Eco-tex certificate for its ecologically-produced textiles.  

“It was a huge commercial success; the total output was increased by 30%.”, says Mr. Kälin. “What we have to do now is change the standard of how we All work in industry.  I come from industry and it is my ambition: to see how we can change the way industry works in the future, to include the practices by which our planet can survive.”

In 2001, Kälin supported DesignTex’s decision to give the entire textile industry the formula they used, for their ground-breaking processes. Kälin’s company wrote a letter to all members of the Association for Contract Textiles, inviting them to use what are early Cradle to Cradle® concepts. 

In the film below, “Waste = Food” he describes this pre-C2CC experience of total company disruption, and the totally sustainable solution they were able to come up with…….

“We want to use this ‘Cradle to Cradle Certified’ label to provide industry peers, regulators and end-users with a transparent and tangible validation of the quality and safety of a product,” explained Albin Kälin. “This certification authenticates not only the chemical safety of a product for humans and environment, but also its safe recycling-next uses.”

Now that the Cradle to Cradle Certificate is a world standard, Mr. Albin Kälin, has agreed to help describe what such a journey involves today.

Mr. Kälin: We at EPEA Switzerland refer to it this way:
Cradle to Cradle Certified™ certification is C2CC
Cradle to Cradle Design is C2C

The Path/Journey to get to certification.

“Is my product really eligible for C2CC certification?”
– answer some of these questions

  • Is it within the scope of C2CC certification? The Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 4 Product Standard, is currently in development. But, you can use it to check by going to section “2 // PRODUCTS ELIGIBLE FOR CERTIFICATION” to make sure that your project’s or company’s product is the kind of product that the certification covers.
  • Does it comply with the Banned Chemicals Lists?
  • Is there a commitment to continuous improvement and product optimization?
  • Is my product ready for certification? (Materials, sub-assemblies and ready products are eligible for Cradle to Cradle certification.)
  • There are a few exceptions:
    • Processes and services
    • Businesses
    • Food, beverages, medicines and fuels
    • Buildings and cities
    • All products that conflict with Cradle to Cradle principles (eg weapons, ivory products, dangerous products, etc.)


OK, Let’s start on the path

Basically, the certification process has 2 major components. (We will deal only with “A“)
A. That you “Do the Homework“; consider, test, research, document and collect all aspects of your product and its manufacturing process, and then
B. register for certification.

1. How do you “Do the Homework”?
>>You start by finding help……………….

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In the chart below, from the assessor body Eco Intelligent Growth, you can see that you and your assessor in partnership take on most of the activities.

Cradle to Cradle step by step process
http://ecointelligentgrowth.net/services/#cradle-to-cradle-certified
The Gray is YOU. The Green is your Assessor. Together you will do the work.

Find an accredited assessor to help you go up this path.

The “home work” is a very detailed, could be difficult, process that no one should tackle on their own – especially without prior experience. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute does not want you to tackle this alone – because they are not set up to deal with unfinished business. By the time you get to the end of this post, you will begin to understand why it is to your benefit to use one of the assessors they have trained to help you. If you go on to the next post about collecting data, it will become even clearer. Once you have decided, yes, to “get certified”, the next step is to find your help.

How Do You Decide?

An Accredited Assessment Body that fits YOU.
Review the information on their websites.
Talk to them.
Choose the one that best suits your situation.

The network of Assessors: Accredited Assessment Bodies have been trained by the C2CPII institute and then are accredited to help companies/entrepreneurs achieve certification for their products. These assessors come from totally independent organizations and work in various languages.

A.Kälin:  Yes, for example, at EPEA Switzerland we have a team of over 18 of which 2 are  general assessors who are not involved in project work. The team is located in Hungary, Slovenia, Pakistan, Japan, EU, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Feel free to call, arrange a Conference Call or send us an Email to start talking about what you want to do.  Anyone who has decided to go through with this process should find an assessor that they are comfortable with.  It is a long process – maybe 2-6 months or longer and many things can happen.  You want to find advice that suits not only your product, but you.

On the Vugge til Vugge ApS‘s website, in Denmark, they describe their way of starting a discussion:

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clarification Meeting
The first step is having a free and completely non-committal meeting with us. The meeting will help you clarify whether Cradle to Cradle certification is relevant for your product, how it may benefit your business, and what the process will require in your specific case. We will also be happy to answer any questions you may have.such as
-Is the product basically suitable for C2CC certification?
-How will a C2CC certification proceed?
-What does this mean for your company’s operations?
-What is the marketing potential?

Predicting potential
If you wish, we can make a preliminary assessment of your product’s potential for Cradle to Cradle certification based on your existing information of the product and its manufacturing process.  The cost will vary and starts at, DKK 2,500. If you decide to go ahead this fee is deducted from the total cost for the Assessment.

Offer
We can prepare an offer for Cradle to Cradle Certified certification total assessment of your product. The offer includes a description of the assessment process, specific needs for data collection, assignment of tasks, price and expected time frame for the completion of the certification. The data collection typically takes 2-6 months or longer. All depends on how complex the product, supply chain and how long the data collection takes.

OR Here is a description from ARCHE, in Belgium:

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As a certified Material Health Assessor, ARCHE helps companies to implement Material Health Assessment and move towards certifying their products in line with the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program CM

The Product Certification Process
The PLAN: a comprehensive plan: timeline, estimated cost, trademark licensing considerations, and clearly assigned responsibilities for all aspects of data collection and assessment.
DEEP ANALYSIS: Work with your assessor to establish what is in your product, how it is made, and what happens to it at the end of use. You will complete the product’s Bill of Materials, optimization plans, and other documentation – usually with non-disclosure agreements in places between the assessor, your company, and your suppliers.
The ASSESSment: Your assessor follows the guidelines in the product standard to evaluate in detail the composition of product ingredients and manufacturing processes. This includes a site visit to final manufacturing and assembling facilities and the completion of an assessment summary Report to be submitted to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute for review and if all is well, certification.

OR Here are some some other ways to start:

EPEA Hamburg A first step is defining the goals your company wants to achieve. Screen your business, define a roadmap, start innovation thinking. To support your company in setting the right goals, we offer three services depending on your current situation: The C2C Company Screening, Roadmap Development and Cradle to Cradle Innovation Workshops.


The Home Work – into a new world

The “home work” part of the process is unique to your product, very detailed, where all aspects of your product and its production process will be documented. Any person and her/his product taking this journey is, most likely, treading new ground – new business requirements, that in the future will be a “matter of course” for all new ideas and products. For most of us, who have not thought about this part of life, this is not an easy simple process. Frankly, I would think that anyone who decides to do it, would be gratified to have the help of a person/organisation that has been through the process from beginning to end, to advise, mentor, help streamline, steer you in the best direction for your unique product.

A.Kälin:  Yes, this is true.  I have been through it many times and each time it is a fascinating process.  There have been cases where in collaboration with the assessor, a company has been able to cut expenses, as we did at the Swiss Textile company, and come up with side-byproducts from any waste that accumulates at the end of production – more revenue.

The world populations are all on a new and difficult journey to re-think how we work, play, think, buy…..everything in our lives…..by adding responsibility for planet Earth to our thought processes.*

Early humans took a rather selfish attitude about what we do, which, from the point of view of evolution, is logical. Other animals act selfishly in what they do. It is instinct, gut reaction. But, their actions only effect their immediate environment.  Human actions effect far more than their immediate environment. Already, it is too late to preserve our wonderful atmosphere.  We must learn to consider our planet in every last little thing that we do……. One of the best aspects of the C2C process is opening our eyes to those considerations for planet Earth.*

Cradle to Cradle project reference model

A.Kälin:  We have all been educated to think linear and all products relate to this. Cradle to Cradle Design Innovations require a “rethinking the way we make things”. Every material in a product has to be able to disassemble and the quality of the materials should be maintained over multiple lifecycles. EPEA Switzerland developed a “reference model” which helps to get products safe and circular.  We are all on this new journey to re-think how we work, play, think, buy.

Another tool that we put together is the “Cradle to Cradle Design Innovation Workshop”, for small children to adults in classes or workshops to help us all “re-Think”.

Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Events:

With the link above, review C2C events that are happening this fall (September – December), of which this is one:

Cradle to Cradle forum

Design & Innovation Forum
Stockholm, 4-5 November, 2019
Join the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute in Stockholm this November for the C2CPII Design & Innovation Forum: Transforming Products for the Circular Economy



* Nature is a totally efficient, self-regenerating system. If we discover the laws that govern this system and live synergistically within them, sustainability will follow and humankind will be a success.

R. Buckminster Fuller

There are a number of posts that talk about Cradle to Cradle Certified™:
Cradle to Cradle Certified™ – paving the way
>Path to Cradle to Cradle Certified™ – #1 How to “Do the Homework”?
>Path to Cradle to Cradle Certified™ #2 – the Homework
>Path Cradle to Cradle Certified™ – #3 The Cost
Product Design Review – The verdict: Form should still follow Function*
Do you know your Business’s Carbon Footprint?
Part #2 – Financing a Small Business in a Sustainable/Circular Economy

Your eco-concerns are the motive for my blog. Tell me what’s on your mind, good or bad.

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