02 May, 2024

Introducing C2C Certified® Version 4.1

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is proud to announce the release of Version 4.1 of the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard.

Introducing C2C Certified® Version 4.1

Amsterdam, 2 May 2024 –

The release of Version 4.1 marks a big step forward. Building on three years of user experience and feedback on Version 4.0 from companies and our expert Assessment Bodies, this improved Version 4.1 creates a more accessible framework that still maintains the rigor and comprehensiveness that our standards are known for – companies adopting it are truly making products designed for tomorrow, ” explained Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Regarded as the leading multi-attribute, science-based standard, rooted in the visionary design principles of the 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle, Remaking the Way We Make Things” by the Institute’s founders William McDonough and Michael Braungart, the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard offers an unparalleled framework for designing and producing products for the circular economy. It represents a comprehensive pathway for continuous improvement and verification of products aimed at fostering a healthy, equitable, and sustainable future, is utilized worldwide by companies of all sizes in many industries and sectors, and is supported by an ecosystem of dedicated Assessment Bodies.

“I want to recognize the dedication and professionalism of all those involved in guiding this continued innovation in the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard, and the deep commitment of companies that are following this journey to the circular economy,"
said Christine Lemaitre, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute Board Chair and CEO of German Sustainable Building Council.

The new Version 4.1 standard will be effective 1 July 2024; from this date, the Institute will start accepting applications. Concurrently, it will also release a suite of guidance documents to assist users in navigating the updated standard, and new communication tools to support communication of certification achievements, in alignment with the new European Union legal requirements on green claims. The resources underscore our dedication to ensuring that all program participants are well-equipped to meet the challenges of sustainable product design and to communicate their achievements confidently.

Enhancements in Version 4.1

The Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard Version 4.1 includes many improvements on Version 4.0 across all the standard’s categories, as summarized below:

  • In the Material Health category, the Bronze-level chemical restrictions more closely align with leading chemical regulations, serving as the first step prior to the in-depth, full toxicity assessment of chemicals in the product.

  • In the Product Circularity category, the requirements better incentivize reuse, remanufacturing, and similar cycling pathways. 

  • In the Clean Air & Climate Protection ​category, more options were introduced for achieving important targets to use renewable electricity and address greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing and ensure alignment with industry best practice.​

  • In the Water & Soil Stewardship category, requirements for tier 1 suppliers and third-party water treatment facilities were shifted to higher achievement levels, to offer a more feasible approach. 

  • In the Social Fairness category, a modification of Bronze level requirements was introduced to focus on manufacturing facilities while still ensuring the category is aligned with leading international guidelines (e.g., UN Guiding Principles and OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business).​

  • In the Environmental Policy & Management category, the requirements have been fully aligned with the due diligence requirements that already existed for human rights in the Social Fairness category. This provides a comprehensive and parallel set of environmental and human rights due diligence requirements aligned with the OECD Guidance and the upcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.

A more detailed list of these changes is accessible in the Version 4.0 to Version 4.1 Comparison document here.

“This standard not only acknowledges the practical challenges faced by businesses but also aligns with the latest legislative developments and industry practices, ensuring the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard continues to serve as a robust framework for sustainable product innovation,
” said Susan Klosterhaus, Vice President Science and Certification of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Pathways to Version 4.1 Certification

The Institute continues its mission to expand the adoption of the Cradle to Cradle Certified® methodology. Companies are encouraged to adopt the Version 4.1 standard in full. As an 'on-ramp' to the full standard, companies can select a rigorous C2C Certified Material Health Certificate which has been updated to reflect the Version 4.1 changes, and the Institute is also preparing a new certification with a primary focus on product-level circularity and material health from Version 4.1 - a draft will soon be shared for public consultation.

Support from Our Community 

The development of Version 4.1 was a highly collaborative effort led by the Institute, involving our Assessment Bodies, our Board, and the independent Standards Steering Committee (which includes certification holders, technical experts, and representatives from the nonprofit sector and academia).

These new developments have received wide support from our community:

"C2C Certified® Version 4.1 represents the proactive response of the C2C Certified Community to the multifaceted crisis confronting our civilization. Addressing the challenges inherent in every stage of product development, this initiative builds upon two decades of advocating for Good design for the betterment of society, commerce, and the environment. C2C Certified® 4.1 is taking the journey to the next level, aiming to set the fundamental principles for a brighter common future," 
said Ignasi Cubiña, President and Co-Founder of Eco Intelligent Growth, Partner at Grupo Construcía and Cradle to Cradle Certified® Assessor.

“The Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Standard provides the holistic framework for sustainable design and optimization that leading brands, retailers, designers, and manufacturers seek to help drive innovation while creating lower carbon products, systems and business models that center the well-being of humans and the environment. The release of Version 4.1 of this product standard allows us to better serve our clients to meet their sustainability goals by providing a more practical yet robust  framework that more closely aligns with leading international regulations, industry and due-diligence best practices that advance environmental and human rights,”
said Nicole Acevedo, PhD, Director of Material Health and Integrative Toxicology, WAP Sustainability Consulting, Cradle to Cradle Certified® Assessor.

For more information, the Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 4.1 standard is available here.