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 broken down into its chemical constituents. Through the certification process an assessor collaborates with a company’s entire supply chain to identify every chemical in the product above 0.01% (or 100ppm). These chemicals are then evaluated against 24 hazard endpoints for human and environmental health and given a hazard rating of Red, Yellow, or Green. Material assessments combine chemical hazard ratings, potential exposure information, and material cyclability information into an overall assessment for each material in the product.
Safe and Healthy Materials
Cradle to Cradle is an innovative approach that models human industry on the processes of nature’s biological nutrient metabolism integrated with an equally effective technical nutrient metabolism, in which the materials of human industry safely and productively flow within the two metabolisms in a fully characterized and fully assessed way. Products that are designed as services are made from materials that cycle in the technical metabolism at the end of their use cycle. Consumption products, those that naturally end up in the environment (biological cycle) during or post-use, are made from materials that are inherently safe for the biosphere.
For Basic level certification, all materials are identified and defined as intended biological or technical nutrients; as such they are assessed within the appropriate use context in higher levels of certification.
Different requirements for different metabolisms
If a material is identified as a biological nutrient, it is subject to a list of banned chemicals which have no place in materials designed to be consumed by humans or the environment. These materials are also assessed for their biodegradability, although in certain cases, such as paper products or bio-based plastics, these materials may go through several recycling processes before re-entering the biosphere.
If a material is identified as an intended technical nutrient, it is subject to a slightly different list of banned chemicals, which allows for the use of certain inherently problematic substances (like lead) in cases where no exposure is expected during use, AND the material is managed in a technical nutrient system that ensures the material is endlessly cycled in technical systems.
The ultimate goal is for all products to be manufactured using only those materials that have been optimized for their intended metabolism. As such, products are able to achieve increasingly higher levels of certification as more of the materials are assessed and then optimized.
The Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Products Program demands improvement at each re-certification cycle. With regard to material health, this means a commitment to having the entire product assessed and working to optimize problematic materials. Progress on material optimization is expected at each product re-certification, with a good faith effort to find suitable substitutes to problematic substances.
Version 3.0 Standard Requirements
The table below lists each unique requirement within the Material Health category. To achieve a given level, the requirements at all lower levels are to be met as well.
- The product is 100% characterized by its generic materials (e.g., aluminum, polyethylene, steel, etc.) and/or product categories and names (e.g., coatings).
- The appropriate metabolism (i.e., technical nutrient (TN) or biological nutrient (BN)) is identified for the product and its components.
- The product does not contain any Banned List chemicals based on supplier declarations.
- The product is at least 75% assessed (by weight) using ABC-X ratings. Externally Managed Components (EMCs) are considered assessed and contribute to the overall percentage of the product that has been assessed. Products that are entirely BN in nature (e.g., cosmetics, personal care, soaps, detergents, etc.) are 100% assessed.
- A phase out or optimization strategy has been developed for those materials with an X rating.
- The product has been at least 95% assessed (by weight) using ABC-X ratings. Externally Managed Components (EMCs) are considered assessed and contribute to the overall percentage of the product that has been assessed. Products that are entirely BN in nature (e.g., cosmetics, personal care, soaps, detergents, etc.) must be at least 100% assessed.
- The product contains no substances known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, genetic damage, or reproductive harm (CMRs) after the A, B, C, X assessment has been carried out.
- The product has been 100% assessed (by weight) using A, B, C ratings. All EMCs have been assessed as non-X.
- The product contains no X assessed materials (optimization strategy is not required).
- Product meets C2C emissions standards.
- All process chemicals have been assessed and none have been assessed as X.
International Standards Organization (ISO - Intl)
Labs performing testing analysis should be accredited according to ISO 17025.
RoHS compliance statements and/or testing documentation ensure conformance to banned lists for metals and some flame retardants.
Coalition of Northeastern Governors – Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (US)
CONEG TPCH compliance statements (for packaging in US) demonstrate testing compliance for certain substances in recycled packaging.
Resource for determining alloy composition and information about other material types.
Resource for determining alloy composition, and other material engineering resources.
Copper Development Association, Inc
Resource for determining alloy composition.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
OECD guidelines apply to determination of biodegradability of a material under various circumstances.
ASTM testing methods for measuring VOCs, ASTM D5116 for small chamber, ASTM D6670 for large chamber, may be used to demonstrate compliance with C2C Certified emissions standards (Gold level).
Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA - International)
ANSI/BIFMA M7.1-2011 VOC testing methods and loading scenarios for office furniture may be used to demonstrate compliance with C2C Certified emissions standards (Gold level)