The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard
The Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Products Standard is a multi-attribute, continuous improvement methodology that evaluates products across five categories of human and environmental health. It is administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation InstituteSM. Product certification is awarded at five levels (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum), with the expectation that an applicant will optimize each aspect of their product over time. The ultimate goal is to encourage innovation and the design of products that effectively and positively impact people and the environment.
A multi-attribute standard
While many certifications in the market address one aspect of a product or its production, the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard addresses five quality categories relating to human and environmental health. In order to achieve certification, a product must meet the requirements for a given level in all five categories. A PDF overview of the achievement levels is here.
The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard evaluates products and their manufacturers based on achievement in 5 categories:
Material Health - Products are made with materials that are safe and healthy for humans and the environment
Material Reutilization - Products are designed so all ingredients can be reused safely by nature or industry
Renewable Energy and Carbon Management - Products are assembled and manufactured with renewable, non polluting energy
Water Stewardship - Products are made in ways that protect and enrich water supplies
Social Fairness - Products are made in ways that advance social and environmental justice
A continuous improvement standard
The certification process recognizes transition and human intention as part of any successful protocol for continuous product improvement. The program also recognizes that any manufacturer's knowledge may vary widely regarding the chemicals used in a product, the extent to which its materials can be reused in biological or technical cycles, and the energy and water used to produce it. The goal of continuous improvement is not “zero” or simply reducing the human and environmental impact of a product, but instead combines the progressive reduction of “bad” with the increase in “good” to reach eco-effective Cradle to Cradle® goal. See the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard (.pdf) for more information on the requirements for product optimization.
Every manufacturer receiving the certification mark for their product is required to make a good faith effort toward optimization in all five quality categories.
Overall Product Scoring
A product is given a score in all five program categories, but the overall certification level equals the lowest score in any category. The chart below is an example of a product scorecard. Please see the Cradle to Cradle Certified Standard documents for more information.
Explore the five categories of certification
The material health assessment of a product using Version 3.0 of the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Product Standard begins at the Basic level by defining its generic materials and ensuring that there are no banned chemicals present. Each higher level of certification requires that a higher percentage of those materials be fully assessed (down to the 100 parts per million level) until all problematic (X-assessed) substances are removed for Gold level and all problematic (X-assessed) process chemicals are removed for Platinum. Material health assessments must be conducted by trained, qualified Material Health Assessors.
Products are assessed for material reutilization potential according to the intended metabolism for the material. At the Basic level, materials are defined as an intended part of a biological or technical metabolism. Beginning at the Bronze level, the reutilization potential of the product is calculated as a score from 1 to 100, based on its cyclability and recycled or rapidly renewable content. At the Gold level, a nutrient management strategy outlining how a product is to be appropriately managed through proprietary, municipal, or cooperative commercial systems is developed. A Platinum rank in material reutilization means that the product is being actively and successfully managed in complimentary metabolisms.
The goal of the renewable energy and carbon management category is to encourage the use of more renewable energy than is required to manufacture the product, and to manage greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be reduced as biological nutrients by stimulating the uptake of natural systems. The Basic level requirement for this category is to quantify purchased energy and on-site emissions attributable to the final manufacturing stage(s) of the product. At the Bronze level, a plan to use renewable energy and manage emissions must be developed. At the Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, increasing percentages of production energy must be displaced with renewable energy or other management strategies as outlined in the Standard. At the Platinum level, a surplus of renewable energy is being generated for the final manufacture of the product and the applicant has begun to address the embodied energy of the product from cradle to gate.
The overall goal of the Water Stewardship category is to move companies to responsible water stewardship and eventually to production that positively impacts water resources. Companies begin at the Basic level demonstrating regulatory compliance with their effluent permit and developing a plan to manage any local or business specific water issues. At the Bronze level, a facility water audit is conducted. At the Silver and Gold levels, a manufacturer may choose to optimize their product-related process chemicals in effluent or work with their supply chain to identify and manage water related concerns. A product that has achieved Platinum level is produced in such a way that water leaving the production facility meets drinking water standards.
The Social Fairness category ensures that progress is made towards sustaining business operations that protect the value chain and contribute to all stakeholder interests including employees, customers, community members, and the environment. At the Basic level, companies seeking certification must conduct a streamlined self-audit of social issues affecting their business using a quick and easy tool like the Social Hotspots database, and develop a management plan to address any potential issues. As the product moves to higher certification levels, a more comprehensive self-audit is completed, and measures are taken towards addressing issue and industry-specific social concerns internally and through the supply chain. At the Platinum level, product manufacturers have undergone a third party, facility level social audit.