When it comes to “green” certification, there are no bad products, just bad design, say German chemist Michael Braungart and U.S. architect William McDonough, creators of the world’s leading cradle-to-cradle certification program.
Most approaches to sustainable development seek to minimise human impact on the environment. Cradle-to-cradle (C2C) design, however, strives to increase the positive effects of human activity and manufactured products through proactive design, with no residuals for disposal at the end of product life and no loss of quality in materials that are remade into the same or new products. Or as Braungart and McDonough put it, ‘waste equals food’: If a product is properly designed, at the end of its useful life, it can be broken down into its basic elements, which become the ‘nutrients’ for new products. Instead of less waste, the goal is no waste.
In the C2C model, product materials circulate in an endless cycle with no net effect on the environment. To date, more than 200 companies worldwide have received C2C Certification. A number of European cities and municipalities, including the Dutch province of Limburg, have embraced C2C sustainability as a strategy to not only protect the environment but to also strengthen people’s welfare and economic prospects through new business opportunities.This correlates well with Sapa’s own approach. “Our goal is to serve the customer including those who demand environmentally-friendly materials and green energy and to help them meet their environmental targets. We are, in fact, the first aluminium supplier in the world to offer C2C-certified lighting columns,” says Nicole le Sage, marketing communications, Sapa Pole Products, the Netherlands.
C2C design is a continuous process of development and improvement. As part of this effort, Sapa Pole Products is launching a take-back program in 2012 to offer a full service package to customers: At the end of pro-duct life, Sapa will collect obsolete lighting columns and reprocess the metal into new ones, thereby completing the technical loop and taking another step in support of C2C sustainability.