Rating Levels for Cradle to Cradle Certified

Sept. 23, 2015

Learn about the targets a product has to reach.

If you’re familiar with LEED, you know that a certified building is more than its final score and has met a number of criteria to earn its designation. The same is true with Cradle to Cradle Certified – each level requires a product to meet benchmarks that attest to responsible manufacturing practices.

When considering C2C products, take the time to look into how the company has surpassed sustainable thresholds in these five areas.

Material Health
To know the chemical ingredients of every material in a product and optimize for a safer exposure profile.

■ Identify materials as either a technical or biological nutrient for the product and its components.
■ The product does not contain any
Banned List chemicals above the
relevant thresholds.

■ The product is at least 75% assessed by weight, including Externally Managed Components (EMCs).
■ A phase out or optimization strategy has been developed for those materials with problematic properties.

■ The product has been at least 95% assessed and contains no substances known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, genetic damage, or reproductive harm.

■ The product has been 100% assessed, all EMCs have been assessed as non-problematic, and C2C emissions standards have been met.

■ All process chemicals have been assessed and none are considered questionable.

Material Reutilization
To design products made with rapidly renewable materials or recycled content that can safely return to nature or industry through reuse, recycling, or composting.

■ Each generic material is clearly defined
as an intended part of a biological or technical cycle.

■ The product has a Material Reutilization Score that is 35 or 50.

■ The product has a Material
Reutilization Score that is at least 65 and the manufacturer has completed a nutrient management strategy including scope, timeline, and budget.

■ The product has a Material Reutilization Score of 100 and is actively being recovered and recycled.

Renewable Energy and Carbon Management
To know the chemical ingredients of every material in a product and optimize for a safer exposure profile.

■ Annual purchased electricity and direct on-site emissions associated with the final manufacturing stage of the product are quantified.

■ A renewable energy use and carbon management strategy is developed.

■ For the final manufacturing stage, 5% of purchased electricity is renewably sourced or offset with renewable energy projects, and 5% of direct on-site emissions are offset.

■ 50% of purchased electricity is renewably sourced or offset with renewable energy projects, and 50% of direct on-site emissions are offset.

■ For the final manufacturing stage, 100% of purchased electricity is renewably sourced or offset with renewable energy projects, and 100% of direct on-site emissions are offset.

■ The embodied energy associated with the product from Cradle to Gate is characterized and quantified. A strategy to optimize is developed to ensure 5% of the embodied energy is covered by offsets or otherwise addressed.

Water Stewardship
To manage clean water as a precious resource and an essential human right by addressing local geographic and industry water impacts at each manufacturing facility.

■ No significant discharge violations has been issued within the last two years.
■ Local- and business-specific water issues are characterized, such as water scarcity or proximity to sensitive ecosystems.
■ A statement of water stewardship intentions describing what action is being taken for mitigating the identified problems and concerns is provided.

■ A facility-wide water audit is completed.

■ Product-related process chemicals in effluent are characterized and assessed. For facilities without product-relevant effluent, supply chain-relevant water issues for at least 20% of Tier 1 suppliers are characterized and a positive impact strategy is developed.

■ Product-related process chemicals in effluent are optimized, such as chemicals identified as problematic are kept flowing in systems of nutrient recovery or effluents leaving the facility do not contain problematic chemicals.

■ All water leaving the manufacturing facility meets drinking water quality standards.

Social Fairness
To design operations to honor all people and natural systems affected by the creation, use, disposal or reuse of a product and its supply chain.

■ A self-audit is conducted to assess protection of fundamental human rights. Management procedures aiming to address any identified issues are provided.

■ A full social responsibility self-audit is complete and a positive impact strategy is developed, which is based on the UN Global Compact Tool or B Corp.

Companies elect to purse one of the following:

■ Complete a material specific or issue-related audit or certification relevant to a minimum of 25% of the product material by weight, such as FSC Certified or Fair Trade.
■ Fully investigate supply chain-relevant social issues and develop a positive impact strategy.
■ Actively conduct an innovative social project that positively impacts employees, the local or global community, social aspects of the product’s supply chain, or recycling and reuse.

■ Manufacturers must complete two of the Silver Level requirements.

■ All Silver Level requirements are complete.
■ A facility-level audit is completed by a third party against an internationally recognized social responsibility program, such as the SA8000 standard by Social Accountability International.

Learn about the origins of this ecolabel and hear from companies who have gone through the verification progress: An Inside Look at Cradle to Cradle Certification

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