Whereas some labels only have a cursory screen of hazardous substances, C2C includes risks, routes of exposure, or contextual assessments, notes Bolus.
“This benchmark is not only product chemistry but process chemistry – manufacturers can’t use anything during production that’s considered carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reproductively toxic for either humans or wildlife,” he adds. “When a product has reached Platinum level, no problematic substances are emitted by the product, its process chemistry, air emissions, or effluent discharge.”
In addition to high percentages of recycled or renewable content, Cradle to Cradle Certified also stipulates that products must be able to be recovered, repurposed, or composted. Reutilization ensures that items are diverted from the landfill and have a second life as a useful biological or industrial material.
Products are also pushed to employ responsible manufacturing practices. As every product consumes energy during manufacturing, the standard encourages companies to use renewable energy, purchase carbon offsets, and otherwise conserve their use of fossil fuels, says Glass. This focus is limited to the final manufacturing rather than transportation impacts.
Water quality is another facet of stewardship because of the environmental risks associated with effluent. “The water category is focused on quality rather than quantity. Industrial sites need to be responsible for how water is handled in their facilities and what kind of shape it’s in when it’s discharged,” explains Bolus.
Beyond a product’s creation, every company must demonstrate its commitment to social fairness. Under Cradle to Cradle, sustainability extends beyond the product to all of the people involved in its creation. “We want all stakeholders treated as partners,” Glass says.
Companies can demonstrate holistic practices throughout their supply chains by using audits such as B Corp, UN Global Compact Tool, or Fair Trade. These assessment look at everything from equitable wages and working conditions to charity giving and community engagement, Glass explains.
From these five areas, a Bronze through Platinum designation is awarded. Unlike other point-based systems, Cradle to Cradle Certified uses the score from the lowest category as the final certification level. This means that an item could be awarded Bronze even if it has satisfied Silver, Gold, or Platinum targets in all but one of the categories. To provide additional insight into the product’s green attributes, score cards are available that detail which requirements were achieved, notes Glass.
Supporting Green Building Operations
With over 2,000 certified products, Cradle to Cradle has many solutions that interface with building management, including cleaning supplies, flooring, furniture, washroom accessories, structural components, and interior finishes such as paints, ceilings, and wallcoverings.