Certification Criteria

There are five categories of criteria for certification which were designed to align with the Cradle to Cradle principles: Material Health, Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy Use, Water Stewardship, and Social Responsibility. In order to achieve certification at a certain level, the product and manufacturing processes must meet the criteria at that level in all five categories.

View the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Criteria: Summary Chart
View the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Criteria: Complete Rules

View the Certification Resources page for additional documents and resources related to certification requirements

1. Material Health
The Cradle to Cradle design protocol calls for materials to be defined as technical or biological nutrients that are safe and healthy for humans and the environment. Working with the product manufacturer and suppliers, each product formulation is mapped out and broken down into its chemical constituents. Through the certification process MBDC collaborates with a company’s entire supply chain to map out every chemical in the product above 0.01% (or 100ppm), a process which exceeds environmental regulations and mitigates the risks of not knowing everything in your product. These chemicals are then evaluated against 19 criteria for human and environmental health and given a toxicity rating of Red, Yellow, or Green. Unlike other programs that simply measure what harmful chemicals are being emitted from a product, the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM process examines the toxicity of every material that goes INTO a product and provides a path to help manufacturers improve product design and safety to humans and the environment.
   Cradle to Cradle Toxicity Ratings for Chemicals 


Little to no risk associated with this substance. 

Preferred for use in its intended application.



Low to moderate risk associated with this substance. 

Acceptable for continued use unless a GREEN alternative is available.



High hazard and risk associated with the use of this substance. 

Develop strategy for phase out.



Incomplete data. Cannot be characterized.


• At the Silver level, there are listed thresholds for certain classes of problematic chemicals. 
• At the Gold level, there can be no Red assessed chemicals
• At the Platinum level, there must be at least 50% Green assessed materials

2. Material Reutilization:

The Cradle to Cradle framework seeks to eliminate the concept of waste and promotes design that encourages the recyclability of the product for future uses. This category rewards products that contain recycled or renewable materials and are designed to be recycled as technical or biological nutrients in future life cycles. At higher levels of certification, manufacturers are expected to develop and implement a strategy to close the loop on the product at the end of its useful life

Material Reutilization Score

= [( % Recyclable/Compostable Content X 2) + ( % Recycled/Renewable Content X 1)] / 3
• At the Silver level, the score must be >=50
• At the Gold level, the score must be >=65
• At the Platinum level, the score must be >=80

3. Renewable Energy Use: 
Manufacturers are encouraged to go beyond energy efficiency and commit themselves to the use of solar, wind, geothermal, or other renewable sources of energy during the manufacturing process.  Savings made from energy efficiency can then be invested into non-fossil fuel sources of renewable energy.  
• At the Silver level, manufacturers must quantify and characterize the energy used in the final assembly of the product. 
• At the Gold level, the final assembly of a product must be manufactured with at least 50% renewable energy sourced directly or through Green-e Certified renewable energy certificates (RECs). 

• At the Platinum level all of the final assembly energy must be renewably powered and 50% of the entire energy footprint must be renewably powered. 

4. Water Stewardship:

Manufacturers are encouraged to operate in a way that respects the need for all living things to have clean water. A Cradle to Cradle design would have the water leaving the factory as clean as or cleaner than when it came in.

• At the Silver level, the company must publish water stewardship principles that guide operations.  
• At the Gold level, the company must conduct a self-assessment of the water use.  
• At the Platinum level, the company must implement innovative water conservation and water discharge measures.  

 View the full Water Stewardship Criteria


5. Social Responsibility:

Respecting diversity is one of the central principles of Cradle to Cradle. Manufacturers are encouraged to practice business in a way that respects the health, safety, and rights of people and the planet.
• At the Silver level, the company must publicize a corporate ethics or fair labor statement. 
• At the Gold level, the company must conduct a self-assessment in order to collect data towards a third party social accreditation or certification. 
• At the Platinum level, the company must complete a third party social responsibility certification. 
Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM is a certification mark licensed by Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

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