Cradle to Cradle Framework



An organization pursuing a positive impact on the planet as a growth opportunity engenders a focus on enhancing benefits (not only reducing costs) through its decision-making and actions -- taking an approach of optimization rather than minimization. The organization can understand the perspective of “people, planet and profit," as expansionist and enabling leadership through the achievement of advanced success metrics. For example, the concept of ‘good design’ of products and services should move beyond typical measures of quality -- cost, performance and aesthetics -- to integrate and apply additional objectives addressing the environment and social responsibility.


The Cradle to Cradle framework moves beyond the traditional goal of reducing the negative impacts of commerce (‘eco-efficiency’), to a new paradigm of increasing its positive impacts (‘eco-effectiveness’). MBDC has developed a white paper that compares the approach of eco-efficiency (or minimization) and a more comprehensive, sustaining approach that integrates eco-efficiency within the larger eco-effective goal of optimization.

At its core, Cradle to Cradle design perceives the safe and productive processes of nature’s ‘biological metabolism’ as a model for developing a ‘technical metabolism’ flow of industrial materials. Product components can be designed for continuous recovery and reutilization as biological and technical nutrients within these metabolisms.


The Cradle to Cradle framework also addresses energy, water and social responsibility through the following tenets:

  • Eliminate the concept of waste. “Waste equals food.” Design products and materials with life cycles that are safe for human health and the environment and that can be reused perpetually through biological and technical metabolisms. Create and participate in systems to collect and recover the value of these materials following their use.
  • Power with renewable energy. “Use current solar income.” Maximize the use of renewable energy.
  • Respect human & natural systems. “Celebrate diversity.” Manage water use to maximize quality, promote healthy ecosystems and respect local impacts. Guide operations and stakeholder relationships using social responsibility


Click to view a booklet that presents a Cradle to Cradle vision of a “sustaining future” to which an executive can commit an organization,
along with eco-effective and eco-efficient strategies for managers working to achieve that vision in a profoundly economical and revenue generating manner.
Visit the Cradle to Cradle Implementation page for more information on realizing a Cradle to Cradle future.


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