texfash.com: The recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report is being described as the last warning call. With that specific backdrop, how is the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) looking at the future? How significant, do you think, your role is going to be now? Do you think you are going to become more stringent in both the standard as well as issuing certifications?
Nienke Steen: The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute highly values the assessments by the IPCC, which give a clear science-based view of the status quo and future scenarios of climate change and the need for a transition in international policies, business models and consumer behaviour.
As background, C2CPII is dedicated to powering the shift towards a world where safe materials and products are designed and manufactured in a prosperous, circular economy to maximise health and wellbeing for people and the planet. Cradle to Cradle Certified is the leading multi-attribute standard used globally for more than a decade for designing and making products that enable a healthy, equitable and sustainable future, according to the world’s most advanced science-based measures. Products are third party assessed comprehensively across five sustainability focus areas: material health, product circularity, clean air and climate protection, water and soil stewardship, and social fairness.
Therefore, companies that choose to certify their products to Cradle to Cradle Certified, as opposed to other single-attribute standard options, are making a significant effort across their business and their entire supply chains that often requires the transformation of their supply base, operations and entire business model.
Looking at the future, business models need to transform to circular models rapidly to minimise the negative impact on our climate. The circularity GAP report stated that the global economy is now only 7.2% circular. That's illustrative for the amount of businesses that still need to change the way they operate. It will not be easy, and some companies won't make it, but it is the only way we can truly address the negative impact on our planet and turn it into a positive one. We need to take circular design, safe materials and chemicals and responsible manufacturing very seriously, make products last and start reusing products and components on a larger scale. We waste so much valuable resources. Investments need to be made in the area of training, availability of impact data, waste separation, high value cycling and industrial composting. We need to align in the circular value chain with all actors, to understand how we measure impact and what we need from each other to close the loop. Luckily, the legal framework will change the game in the coming years and that is much needed for a transformation at scale.
Therefore, Cradle to Cradle Certified is not merely a box-ticking exercise: optimisation and innovation are part of its DNA. 99% percent of the textile industry is still operating in a linear – take, make, waste model – and our progressive model allows companies to start bridging the gap between where they are and a truly safe, circular and responsible system of production.
The new Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard Version 4.0 reflects the need for even more stringent and transformational requirements and has an ambitious set of actionable requirements for guiding companies to make safer materials choices, create intentionally circular products and processes, and do so in a fair and equitable way, to drive innovation and leadership. To power this systemic transformation, we build on a community and partner strategically with leaders across continents and constituencies, including businesses in our programme, but also, governments, NGOs, industry associations, academia and other stakeholders groups.
In reference to climate-related requirements, the standard has an increasingly ambitious set of requirements, from the onramp Bronze level requirements to Platinum. For example, at Gold, companies must quantify emissions from cradle to gate and conduct third-party verification; achieve 50% renewable electricity and/or greenhouse gas emissions targets in final manufacturing with 50% of renewable electricity used to meet the target (i.e. 25% of total) produced on-site or procured via long term power purchase agreements (or as an alternative purchase 100% renewable electricity. The transparency requirement dictates that embodied greenhouse gas emissions are disclosed and 25% of embodied emissions must be addressed (cradle to gate at minimum).