The Cradle to Cradle® design principle is modelled on nature: the aim is to leave a beneficial footprint rather than simply to minimize negative impacts. Following this principle results in the creation of products that are safe for human beings, healthy for the environment and good for businesses.

Re-thinking products

Cradle to Cradle® is a design principle developed in the 1990s by Prof. Michael Braungart, William McDonough and EPEA GmbH Hamburg. It stands for innovation, quality and good design. The term "Cradle to Cradle" describes the safe and potentially infinite circulation of materials and nutrients in cycles. All substances used are chemically harmless and recyclable. This approach produces no waste in the current sense of the word, i.e. the waste created by the "take make waste" model that has prevailed up to now. Instead, it results in nutrients that can still be used beneficially.

Eco-effectiveness instead of efficiency

Consumption products, such as natural fibres, cleaning agents or biodegradable packaging, circulate in the biological cycle and can be safely returned to it after use. They become compost or other nutrients from which new products are created. Thus, an old product’s waste becomes "food" for a new product. 

The mindset

Businesses tend to focus entirely on reducing their environmental impact (ecological footprint) as efficiently as possible – trying to implement a “zero emissions” or “XYZ-free” strategy. But the aim should not be to become less bad, the point is to set positive goals. An eco-effective business model aims at generating added qualitative value. The Cradle to Cradle® mindset makes this possible.

To learn more about Cradle to Cradle® and EPEA Hamburg visit

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