The Future of Cradle to Cradle Certification: An Interview with William McDonough

Posted on 17. Aug, 2011 by in Business & Policy, Design & Culture, Events, Products

 

Almost 10 years after its release, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, co-authored by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, is still revolutionizing the language of sustainability with a continuously evolving Cradle to Cradle framework for business.  By abandoning the detrimental linear system of manufacturing practices, this new circular model is based on zero waste at every phase of a product’s lifecycle with the intention that materials re-enter the production-supply-chain after use or can safely be restored to the natural environment.

Opportunity Green attended 2011’s Dwell on Design Conference where William McDonough gave a captivating keynote address that emphasized eco-effectiveness within this new paradigm that focuses on continuous quality improvement. Prior to McDonough taking the stage, we were fortunate enough to have the chance to commend him on his recent accomplishments as well as ask him a few questions of our own.

OG: Congratulations the launch of the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute and the declaration made by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee deeming June 9th to be “Cradle to Cradle Day.”

William McDonough: We were so humbled and delighted by Mayor Lee’s pronouncement—what a gift and an honor! To have it come on the occasion of a wonderful Institute event on June 9, wherein Michael and I spoke together, was really special. We have not appeared on stage together in California for several years, so this was a unique moment for us, for the Institute, and for the city and state. We are thrilled that the Institute has made its home in San Francisco. We believe that California is the perfect launching pad.

OG: Now that the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute has launched, what does this mean for the future? What is the goal of the Institute?

William McDonough: The Institute was founded and is dedicated to growing the practice of making Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM products and to providing and supporting the training, tools, and infrastructure for doing so. Michael Braungart and I have gifted the non-profit Institute because after several years of developing the certification system—which is really a continual improvement commitment to quality, not an “eco-label” as it is sometimes called—we knew that it would need to be administered by a non-profit in order to really go to scale. We are thrilled to see that beginning now. The goal of the Institute is to be a community of support and guidance for creating better products through our continuous improvement system.

OG: What does this organization need at this time? (Is there a call-to-action we can announce to the public to fulfill this need?)

William McDonough: The Institute needs participation and support: Become a member, join the online dialogue, and get started! We also continue to raise funds to support the important first years as the Institute gets off the ground. As the support grows, the Institute leaders, Bridgett Luther and Beth Rattner, can ramp up activities ever more quickly.

OG: What are three objectives for the Institute that you would like to see transpire over the next year?

William McDonough: We are eager to see the Institute certify products. Three things that could really jumpstart this process:   1- In order to see the paradigm shift that we have all imagined we need hundreds of companies to get their products certified. 2- Get trained on certification – With the training and certification now available to anyone in the world I think the change can happen very quickly. Remember, “start with products” and when you do you’ll start to change your company by designing with intent. Because, after all if our intent is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power – economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed. Then I believe this is the way we get started on that intent.       3- Finally, think about how as a design community we can support the companies who get their products certified.”

Businesses of all disciplines can now work toward the concept of not just reducing waste, but eliminating it completely while creating and providing safe, non-toxic, well-designed products. So nearly 10 years have passed since this framework has been introduced and the question is increasingly asked: When will more retailers and manufacturers start improving consumer awareness of eco-friendly products and communicate the environmental impact to consumers clearly and succinctly? As consumers we must support the newly in place Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM  infrastructure by starting a dialogue with businesses from which we buy and demanding products with this certification. All people need to understand that “being less bad” in practice is not equivalent to “being good.”

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6 Responses to “The Future of Cradle to Cradle Certification: An Interview with William McDonough”

  1. designalexable

    18. Aug, 2011

    @oppgreen @CradletoCradle @billmcdonough – The natural way : http://t.co/QUrkJNn

  2. C2Ccertified

    18. Aug, 2011

    lk

  3. C2Ccertified

    18. Aug, 2011

    What an amazing interview with our founder William McDonough! Those interested in supporting the institute should check out our website: http://www.c2ccertified.org/Also, those of you who have questions on creating safe and healthy products, make sure to join our new Q&A forum where anyone can seek help from the international C2C community. Signing up is free and only takes a minute! http://c2ccertified.org/index.php/innovation_hub/forum

  4. C2Ccertified

    18. Aug, 2011

    What an amazing interview with our founder William McDonough! Those interested in supporting the institute should check out our website: http://www.c2ccertified.org/ Also, those of you who have questions on creating safe and healthy products, make sure to join our new Q&A forum where anyone can seek help from the international C2C community. Signing up is free and only takes a minute! http://c2ccertified.org/index.php/innovation_hub/forum

  5. C2Ccertified

    18. Aug, 2011

    What an amazing interview with our founder William McDonough! Those interested in supporting the institute should check out our website: http://www.c2ccertified.org/ Also, those of you who have questions on creating safe and healthy products, make sure to join our new forum where anyone can seek help from the international C2C community. Signing up is free and only takes a minute! http://c2ccertified.org/index.php/innovation_hub/forum

  6. KristallLutz

    22. Aug, 2011

    His presentation at Dwell on Design was awesome. I could listen to his stories all day long!

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