The Cradle to Cradle® Design Concept 

Aiming for a world without waste

Waste is essentially material in the wrong place. Re-using the materials contained in a product instead of disposing of them after the product is no longer in use is a smart approach that addresses both the global waste problem and the increasing resource scarcity. The Global Risk Report 2021 of the World Economic Forum defines natural resource crises as the fifth top risk by impact to become a critical threat to the earth’s survival within the next five to ten years. But how did we get here? For years, most economic processes have followed a linear take-make-waste process, in which resources are extracted to produce items that are discarded after their end of use. This has led to an extensive resource exploitation that has created a global waste problem. A cradle to cradle approach has many benefits and could be the answer.

The Cradle to Cradle approach – an economic model of the future

Now is the time to act: The worldwide overconsumption of resources requires a rethinking of the linear take-make-waste model. An approach that has gained increasing significance for those striving for a circular economy is the Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) design concept. Unlike the linear model, in the cradle to cradle model a product is manufactured with the intention of using its components in its end-of-life phase for the creation of new products, thereby drastically reducing the amount of new resources needed.

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The path to Cradle to Cradle Certified ® products

The cradle to cradle concept is an approach for designing intelligent products, processes, and systems by taking the entire life cycle of a product into account. According to this concept, all materials are understood as nutrients in closed biological or technical cycles. It differentiates between consumer goods (e.g. natural fibers or detergents), which are biodegradable, and service products (e.g. faucets) that are broken down into their original materials. Therefore, resources can potentially be re-used endlessly, meaning that the cradle to cradle approach goes far beyond the conventional recycling of products. Cradle to Cradle Certified® products have thus been assessed for their use of environmentally safe, healthy, and recyclable materials.(1)

To achieve a cradle to cradle certification, a product is evaluated in terms of five categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy, water stewardship, and social fairness. Each product is then designated a level of achievement. As of now, three faucets (GROHE BauEdge S-Size, GROHE Eurosmart S-Size, GROHE Eurosmart Kitchen) and the GROHE Tempesta Shower 100 rail set are Cradle to Cradle Certified® at the Gold level. Moreover, the C2C benefit of GROHE BauEdge and GROHE Eurosmart is enhanced with SilkMove ES technology, with ES standing for ‘energy saving’. The technology prevents the unnecessary production of hot water by supplying only cold water with the faucet lever in the middle position.

For GROHE, the circular journey continues

GROHE’s goal of a cradle to cradle circular economy is deeply rooted within the brand’s 20-year-long commitment to sustainability. With waste recycling rates of 99 percent, a take-back system for used GROHE Blue filters, and a use of brass with recycling proportions of up to 80 percent, GROHE has incrementally approached a more circular process – and the journey continues. Fittings typically have a long life cycle, but in addition to achieving certifications for further products, GROHE is already tackling the next challenge by working on take-back processes for discarded cradle to cradle designed faucets in the future.

(1) Certified in accordance to Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 3.1. The C2C Certified Product Standard is the world’s leading science-based and rigorous norm for safe, circular, and responsible materials and products. To achieve a certification, a product is evaluated in terms of the following five criteria: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy, water stewardship, and social fairness. Each product is then designated a level of achievement, either basic, bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. Find more information here.

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