Summary

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is a multi-attribute quality standard that assesses a product’s safety to humans and the environment, as well as its design for material reutilisation, such as recycling or composting. The approach evaluates the design of a product and the practices employed in manufacturing the product. The materials and manufacturing practices of each product are assessed in five categories: Material Health, Material Reutilisation, Renewable Energy & Carbon Management, Water Stewardship, and Social Fairness. The primary aim of Cradle to Cradle® design is to eliminate the concept of waste, and encourage products to be developed for closed-loop systems.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program is multilayered to provide a continuous improvement, multi-attribute framework and certification for products across industries. The certification externally validates progress within each of the quality categories by awarding one of five levels of achievement: Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

The Basic level is a ‘provisional’ certification meaning that this certification can only be applied once to a product; it may then be re-certified at a higher level or it will lose its certification.

Governance

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program is an initiative developed by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), a global sustainability consulting and product certification company, founded in 1995 by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart. In 2010, the not for profit Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute™ was created and MBDC transferred the license for the certification system, methodology, and the certification mark to the Institute.

The Institute trains and accredits assessment bodies which assist companies by assessing their product for certification and help them comply with the certification requirements. A full list of Accredited Assessment Bodies can be found on the Institute website.

The Institute provides third-party review of all product assessments and issues all certifications. Together with the independent Certification Standards Board, it is also responsible for interpretation, development, and revision of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard.

Scope

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is applicable to all products and industries with the exception of food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals, as well as products that contain banned-list chemicals or are in conflict with the Cradle to Cradle principles by intended function or design (see the main standard document for details). Certification criteria are the same for all product types. The scope of the standard therefore covers a broad range of industries and can be applied to the textile industry, but is not specific to it.

Market Acceptance

The trademarks for Cradle to Cradle® services and certification are registered in the United States, European Union, and Japan and are pending in several other countries.

Certified products by category currently include:

  • Building materials
  • Interior design, furniture, seating
  • Paper & packaging
  • Personal & homecare
  • Textile and Fabric

Examples of Cradle to Cradle Certified products, can be found on the official certification registry maintained by the Institute: http://www.c2ccertified.org/products/registry.

Areas of Impact

In Version 3.0 of the standard, there are five categories of criteria for certification which were designed to align with the Cradle to Cradle® principles: Material Health, Material Reutilisation, Renewable Energy & Carbon Management, Water Stewardship, and Social Fairness. In order to achieve certification at a certain level (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum), the product and manufacturing processes must meet the criteria at that level in all five categories.

Energy Consumption

Different energy consumption targets are set for the various levels of certification, which are listed under the ‘Renewable Energy & Carbon Management’ criteria:

  • All certification levels (from Basic to Platinum) require the applicant to supply data describing the amount of energy (quantity and quality) that is used during product manufacture and assembly.
  • For Bronze level, a renewable energy use strategy and a carbon management strategy must be in place.
  • For Silver and Gold level; at least 5% and 50% respectively of the electricity used in the final manufacturing step must be from renewable sources, and 5% and 50% of direct on-site emissions must be offset.
  • For Platinum level, all of the final assembly energy must be renewably powered or offset to 100% by renewable energy projects or carbon offsets. A quantification of the green house gas emissions associated with cradle to gate must also be made, and 5% of these emissions must be covered by carbon offsets.
  • In order to claim that renewable energy is being used, manufacturers need to provide assurance (e.g., Renewable Energy Credits or Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin).
Water Consumption

For Bronze level and above, the company must perform a self-assessed water audit for the manufacturing facility, covering all water flows associated with the product manufacture and assembly, including the water source, usage and quality of water discharges.

Water Emissions

Different water impact and effluent targets are set for the various levels of certification, which are listed under the ‘Water Stewardship’ criteria:

  • For the Basic level, local and business-specific water issues need to be characterized and a positive impact strategy must be developed. In addition, any significant violation of the final manufacturing facility or facilities discharge permit(s) would exclude an applicant from certification.
  • For Bronze level and above, the company must perform a self-assessed water audit for the manufacturing facility, covering all water flows associated with the product manufacture and assembly, including the water source, usage and quality of water discharges.
  • For Silver and above, product-related process chemicals in effluent are characterized and assessed.
  • At the Gold level, no process chemicals assessed as posing a significant risk to humans or the environment are allowed in the effluent.
  • At the Platinum level, all water leaving the manufacturing facility meets drinking water quality standards.
Chemicals (Prohibited substances)

Substances prohibited for use in Cradle to Cradle Certified products are listed in version 3.0 of the product standard. These prohibitions apply to any chemical of intentional input above 1000 ppm, with some stricter thresholds for heavy metals designed for biological cycles. Among substances banned are some toxic heavy metals, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as well as nonylphenol, octylphenol and their ethoxylates.

Chemicals (Chemical Management)

All levels of certification require material transparency. This involves characterizing 100% of the finished product by its generic materials (cotton, polyester, wools etc.). Identification of individual chemicals begins at the Bronze level (> 75% of materials) and continues to increase at the Silver level (> 95% of materials) and Gold level (100% of materials). In addition, the following substances must be reported if used at any level for Bronze level certification and above: toxic heavy metals (such as lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, and cadmium), pigments, dyes, or other colourants, phthalates, halogenated organics, metal plating agents, textile auxiliaries, blowing agents, and paper bleaching agents. Any chemicals identified in the product must then be assessed according the ABC-X methodology whereby, A=optimal, B=could be better, C=tolerable, and X=problematic.

Once all problematic components have been identified, there are various commitments and next steps to implement for chemical management, depending on the level of certification the applicant is applying for:

  • For the Bronze level or above, an applicant must develop an action plan or strategy (in conjunction with the assessment body or independently) to optimize, phase out, or replace any problematic (‘X’) materials found in the product. Progress on this optimization strategy must be demonstrated for every subsequent re-certification (certifications are valid for two years under Version 3.0 of the standard).
  • For the Gold level or above, no ‘X’ assessed materials are allowed.
Chemicals (Consumer Safety)

Consumer safety is covered under the ‘Material Health’ criteria. When chemicals and materials present in a product are evaluated and rated according to the ABC-X system, the evaluation is based on identified chemical hazards and the possible routes of exposure for these chemicals within their material, product-use, and end-of-life context. For additional detail, the reader is referred to the Material Health Assessment Methodology and Supplemental Guidance.

Air Emissions

Air emissions falls under the ‘Material Health’ criteria of the certificate application. For certification levels of Gold and above, applicants must demonstrate compliance with the Cradle to Cradle Certified volatile organic compound (VOC) emission standards, which states that the product must:

  • emit less than 0.5mg/m3 of total VOCs,
  • emit individual VOCs at concentrations less than 0.01 times the lower of the TLV (Threshold Limit Value) or MAK value, which is the level at which a human can be exposed to a chemical substance on a daily basis in a working lifetime without having any adverse health effects,
  • any VOCs that are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, mutagens, reproductive toxins or teratogens must be below the detection limit, with detection limits of no more than 9.0 μg/m3 for formaldehyde and no more than 2μg/m3 for all other chemicals
  • all testing must be done to one of the following standards: ASTM D5116, ASTM D6670, BIFMA M 7.1, or ISO 16000 series testing for VOCs (depending on the product and intended end use).

Additionally, all process chemicals, including those potentially emitted to the air need to be assessed and optimised at the Platinum level, and greenhouse gas emissions during production are considered in the Renewable Energy and Carbon Management category of the standard as described in the Energy Consumption section above.

Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational health and safety practices falls under the ‘Social Fairness’ criteria. All certification levels require the applicant to conduct a streamlined social self-assessment that covers Health & Safety labour practices. At higher levels of certification the applicant needs to begin or complete a third-party social audit and accreditation. Suggested certification systems include, but are not limited to, SA8000 (Social Accountability International) and B Corp.

Occupational health and safety practices also fall under the ‘Material Health criteria. When chemicals and materials present in a product are evaluated and rated according to the ABC-X system, the evaluation is based on identified chemical hazards and the possible routes of exposure for these chemicals during the final manufacture and assembly of the product, in addition to the product use and end-of-life scenarios. For additional detail, the reader is referred to the Material Health Assessment Methodology and Supplemental Guidance.

Management System

Not covered

Record Keeping

Several of the criteria part of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program require reporting on input during product manufacture, such as energy use, water use, chemical use, or complying with certain standards, such as the emissions standards. In order to meet these criteria, the applicant must keep the appropriate records.

Responsibilities/Roles

The roles and responsibilities are defined on the Institute’s website in the Certification Scheme document

Trainings

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute trains and accredits ‘Assessment Bodies’, which provide counsel to manufacturers interested in completing the certification process and guide them in complying with the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard.

Environmental Policy

Not covered

Social Responsibility

‘Social Fairness’ is one of the five quality categories covered by the standard, and depending on the certification level, has the following requirements:

  • For all certification levels, the company must conduct a streamlined social self-assessment covering the subject areas of child labour, forced labour, excessive work time, provision of a living wage, worker health and safety, wage assessment, accidents at work, and toxicity or chemical exposure in the workplace. Additionally, management procedures must be developed to address any high risks identified during this process.
  • At Bronze level or above, the company must conduct a full self-assessment based on the United Nations Global Compact Tool or the B-Corp Impact Assessment.
  • At the Silver level, either
    • 25% or more of the product’s inputs must be covered by a material-specific and/or issue-related audit or certification (FSC Certified, Fair Trade, etc.),
    • or supply chain-relevant social issues are fully investigated and a positive impact strategy is developed
    • or the company is actively conducting an innovative social project that positively impacts employee’s lives, the local community, global community, or social aspects of the product’s supply chain or recycling/reuse
  • At the Gold level or above, two of the three Silver level requirements need to be fulfilled.
  • At Platinum level, all three Silver level requirements need to be fulfilled and the company must complete a third-party social responsibility certification.  Suggested certification systems include SA8000 (Social Accountability International) and B-Corp. This applies to all facilities where the finished product seeking certification is manufactured or assembled.
Material Reutilisation

Material Reutilisation’ is a further criterion which certification applicants are required to address. This covers policies on recyclability and nutrient reutilisation and is largely based the ‘Material Reutilization Score’, a metric that takes into account both the recyclability/biodegradability of a product’s components and the percentage of recycled or rapidly renewable content (see standard for details):

  • At the Basic certification level, the applicant must demonstrate the intention to optimise the product as a technical or biological nutrient product (or both if the materials are easily separable).
  • At Bronze level, the product must achieve a Material Reutilization Score of 35 or greater.
  • At Silver level, the product must achieve a Material Reutilization Score of 50 or greater.
  • At Gold level and above, there must be a well-defined logistics and recovery system plan for the product, which covers the scope, timeline and budget. Additionally, the product must achieve a Material Reutilization Score of 65 or greater.
  • At Platinum certification level, the product must be actively recovered and cycled in a technical or biological metabolism. Additionally, the product must achieve a Material Reutilization Score of 100, which means that it is fully recyclable or biodegradable and that it is made exclusively from recycled or rapidly renewable inputs.

Certification

On Site Audits or Desktop Review

Both

Unannounced Inspections/Other Inspections

Not covered

Process

Phase 1 – Application: To receive certification, an applicant must submit to an accredited assessment body, an application (which follows the structure of the five criteria) together with a completed Bill of Materials, Supplier Data Form and a Water Appendix of the facility or facilities of production.

Phase 2 – Desktop Review:  A Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM accredited assessment body reviews the application and estimates the cost, time, and potential for certification.

Phase 3 – Data Evaluation:  Applicant submits a ‘Certification Packet’ that contains any further documentation or data needed to prove criteria, appropriate to the level of certification applied for, is being satisfied.

The assessment body conducts a supply chain investigation to identify every homogenous material present in the finished product at 0.01 % or above, and the chemicals present in each of these materials at a concentration of 0.01 % or above. Based on their chemical composition, the materials are then evaluated for known or suspected human and environmental health risks throughout the product’s life cycle. In addition, the material’s recyclability/compostability is evaluated.

Phase 4 – Site Visit:  The accredited assessment body conducts a site visit to the facility or facilities conducting the final product manufacturing.  Auditors tour the production/assembly process for the applicant product(s), to see how suppliers’ components come together to make the finished product and understand some basics on process steps and process chemicals. All parts of the plant involved in the manufacturing of the applicant product(s), including raw material storage, manufacturing processes, and waste streams need to be shown to the auditors.

Phase 5 – Third-party review: The accredited assessment body submits to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute a report summarizing the results of their product assessment and recommending certification levels for each of the five standard categories, as well as an overall certification level. An Institute auditor reviews the report and supporting information to determine whether certification at the given level is justified. Additional information may be requested during this phase and the recommended certification levels may be adjusted based on the reviewers comments and questions.

Phase 6 – Trade Mark License Agreement (TLA): The applicant signs a TLA with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute granting them use of the appropriate certification mark.

Phase 7 – Certification:  Once all the criteria are met for certification and the TLA is signed, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute issues the certificates.

Timing

The certification process typically ranges from 2-6 months, depending on the complexity of the product and its supply chain. After all information is available the certification typically takes 6-8 weeks.

Audit Team

Self-assessments conducted with guidelines are predominantly required for certification, such as a water audit; however, the accredited assessment bodies conduct a site visit and to the best of their ability verify all necessary information submitted to document the fulfilment of the certification criteria.

Frequency

Certifications are valid for two calendar years from the date of issuance. Recertification entails confirming and updating information and progress along the continuous improvement path outlined in the standard.

Certification and License Fee

The price of product assessment varies depending on the accredited assessment body as well as the chemical complexity of the product and the complexity of the supply chain. The certification fees are published on the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s website.

The cost for certification of a product component is typically carried by the producer of the product. Specific arrangements can be made between the supplier and the applicant for certification.

Certificate Sample

cradletocradle_certificate_sample

Implementation Tools

Tools

Not applicable

Manual/Procedures

Visit http://www.c2ccertified.org/product_certification/ to learn more about the certification process and find quick access to online references. All Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard documents are also published on the Institute’s website: http://www.c2ccertified.org/product_certification/c2ccertified_product_standard

Labeling

Process

Cradle to Cradle Certified is a certification mark licensed exclusively by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The label comes in five variations to symbolise the different levels of certification available (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum). The certification mark must include the level of achievement and refer to the specific product(s) that are certified.

Applicability

Once a product has been certified at a certain level by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the Cradle to Cradle Certified label can be used. The marks cannot be used in reference to a person, company, building, or service.  Any use of the mark should be submitted to the Institute for approval first.

Fee

The certification fees are published on the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s website.

Graphic Example

cradletocradle_graphic_example

Appendix

Contact Information

Addresses:

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
221 Main St, Suite 650
San Francisco, CA 94105

Sint Jansweg 15 / 6N
5928RC, Venlo
The Netherlands

Petroleumhavenweg 8
1041 AC, Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Website:
http://www.c2ccertified.org/

E-mail:
info@c2ccertified.org

Phone:
US: 1 415 816 7087
NL:  31 6 5246 1128

Social Media:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/C2CCertifiedProducts
Twitter: @C2Ccertified
Tumblr: http://c2ccertified.tumblr.com
Youtube: C2CCertifiedProducts

Bibliography

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute™ website: http://c2ccertified.org/index.php/product_certification/assessing_products

EPEA International: www.epea.com

EPEA Switzerland: www.epeaswitzerland.com