Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is a product standard administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) to incentivize environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing practices. Based on the principles outlined in their 2002 book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart created the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard as a system for designers and manufacturers to evaluate the impacts of manufactured goods.

C2C evaluates products’ environmental and social performance at each phase of its life cycle, from design to manufacturing, use, reuse, and end of life. Any kind of product is eligible for assessment, with the exception of those listed in Section 2.2 of C2CPII’s Product Standard Version 4. Products must meet C2C’s benchmarks across five categories:

  • Material Health – Products cannot contain chemicals and materials that are toxic for human health and the environment, as specified on the Banned Chemical List. Manufacturers can also apply for a separate Material Health Certificate for products that satisfy C2C Certified specifications.
  • Product Circularity – A product’s design must prioritize next phases of its life cycle and larger systems of reutilization, with the goal of eliminating waste.
  • Renewable Energy and Climate – Manufacturers should use renewable energy sources and offset emissions in order to reduce or eliminate environmental impact.
  • Water Stewardship – Manufacturers must implement water conservation best practices and strategies to protect and improve water quality.
  • Social Fairness – Manufacturers must demonstrate commitment to human rights and the rights of the natural world.[1]

Within each category, products are rated according to five achievement levels: Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. They also receive an overall certification level equal to the lowest rating received across the five categories. Manufacturers work with authorized third-party assessment organizations to appraise materials, sub-assemblies, and fully fabricated goods for certification. Certification must be renewed every two years. The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Registry is C2C’s free online database with information on product certification levels across all Assessment Categories.

[1] Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute:


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