Product certification

Glossary

Glossary

Acronyms and abbreviations

  • ASTM - American Society for Testing and Materials
  • BoM - Bill of Materials
  • EPA - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • IARC - International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • HAP - Hazardous Air Pollutant
  • IVOC - Individual volatile organic compound
  • LCA - Life cycle assessment
  • MAK - Maximum allowable concentration at the workplace
Algae toxicity

Several Genera and Species of Green Algae found in lakes, ponds, and streams that are responsible for aquatic oxygen balance and food sources for fish are tested for their reaction to chemical exposure. Chemicals that kill algae are considered dangerous to aquatic eco-systems due to the possible food chain effects and food source depletion. Algae Toxicity is a measure of a substance’s toxicity when consumed by these various types of Algae. A common measuring tool is EC50 (“effective concentration”), which is the concentration of a substance in the water required to stop photosynthesis of fifty (50) percent of the algae test population. If EC50 < 10 mg/L, the substance is considered algae toxic.

Androgen

Any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of male characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors. 

ASTM D6400-04

Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics


Bioaccumulation

The process by which substances are stored and accumulated in the tissue or organs of humans or animals.

Bioconcentration factor (bcf)

A measure of the tendency for a chemical to accumulate. The ratio of the concentration of a substance in a living organism (mg/ kg) to the concentration of that substance in the surrounding environment (mg/L for aquatic systems).

Biodegradable

The process by which a substance or material is broken down or decomposed by microorganisms and reduced to organic or inorganic molecules which can be further utilized by living systems. Biodegradation can be aerobic, if oxygen is present, or anaerobic, if not oxygen is present. The OECD defines the appropriate testing methods for ready and inherent biodegradability. If making biodegradability claims for materials that are not commonly known to be biodegradable, testing should be done according to these methods.

Biodegradation

The process by which a substance or material is broken down (or decomposed) by microorganisms and reduced to organic or inorganic molecules which can be further utilized by living systems. Biodegradation can be aerobic, if oxygen is present, or anaerobic, if no oxygen is present.

Biological metabolism

The cycle in which biological nutrients flow.  Any material that comes into intentional or likely unintentional contact with the biological metabolism should be designed to safely come into contact with living organisms.

Biological nutrient

A product usable by defined living organisms to carry on life processes such as growth, cell division, synthesis of carbohydrates, energy management and other complex functions. Any material emanating from product consumption that comes into intentional or likely unintentional and uncontrolled contact with biological systems is assessed for its capacity to support their metabolism.

more
Biomass

Organic, non-fossil material that is available on a renewable basis. Biomass includes all biological organisms, dead or alive, and their metabolic by-products that have not been transformed by geological processes into substances such as coal or petroleum. examples of biomass are forest and mill residues, agricultural crops and wastes, wood and wood wastes, animal wastes, livestock operation residues, aquatic plants, and some municipal and industrial wastes.


Carbon Disclosure Project

Organization that helps companies voluntarily disclose greenhouse gas emission accounting

Carbon offset

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for the release/production of emissions from another source.

Carcinogen - known

A causal relationship has been established between exposure to the agent and human cancer (MAK 1 or TLV A1 or IARC Group 1).

Carcinogen - possible, or suspected

A known animal carcinogen, but evidence of carcinogenicity in humans is non-existent, or there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and insufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals (MAK 3 or TLV A3 or IARC Group 2B).

Carcinogen - probable

A known animal carcinogen, but carcinogenicity in humans has not been definitely proven (MAK 2 or TLV A2 or IARC Group 2A).

CAS number

Chemical Abstract Service number. This number uniquely identifies each pure chemical compound. This is also designated as Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number (CASRN) as well.

 

Chemical

A substance represented by a single Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number (CAS#)

Chemical class

Grouping of elements or compounds according to certain chemical functional or structural properties. 

Chemical profile

The process of using the 24 human and environmental health endpoints and their associated criteria to determine the inherent hazards of a single chemical.

 

Chemical profiles database

A database set up to house the color-coded rating of chemicals based on their hazards to human and environmental health.

Child labor

UNICEF definition: work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work. Such work is considered harmful to the child and should therefore be eliminated.

more
Clean development mechanism

Stimulates sustainable development by allowing emission reduction projects in developing countries while allowing industrialized nations to meet emission reduction targets

Clearance time (CT)

The CT indicates the time needed to eliminate or biodegrade a substance to a certain percentage in an organism. For example, the CT50 indicates the time needed to eliminate 50% of a certain substance, analogous to the half-life time measure t1/2.

Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance, The

Partnership organization comprised of corporations, international non-government organizations, and research institutions that supports and promotes GHG emission mitigation and removal projects that are “land-based.”

Climate Action Reserve

National offset program founded to guarantee transparency, integrity, and financial value of voluntary U.S. carbon market.

Climatic relevance

This is a measure of the climate-influencing characteristics of the substance. All compounds that contribute to global warming are listed here. Examples include carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, and sulfur hexafluoride.

CO2 equivalents (CO2e)

A quantity that describes the amount of CO2 for a particular greenhouse that has the same Global Warming Potential when measured for a specific timescale. 

Colorant

Any chemical or substance used to impart color to matter, such as a pigment or dye. 

Compostable

According to ASTM, a compostable material is one that is capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the material is not visually distinguishable and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate consistent with known compostable materials.

Compostable

A material capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the material is not visually distinguishable and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate consistent with known compostable materials. If making claims on the compostable nature of materials that are not commonly known to be compostable, testing should be done according to the appropriate ASTM, ISO, CEN, or DIN standard. For example, ASTM D6400-04 for plastics.


Daphnia toxicity

Water fleas of the genus Daphnia can be found in most ponds and streams. They feed upon microscopic particles of organic matter and are in turn food for fish and other aquatic organisms. Daphnia Toxicity is a measure of a substance’s toxicity when consumed by these water fleas. A common measuring tool for Daphnia Toxicity is EC50 (“effective concentration”), which is the concentration of a substance in the water required to immobilize 50 percent of the test animals. If EC50<10 mg/L, the substance is considered Daphnia Toxic.

Degradation

Decomposition of a compound by stages, exhibiting well-defined intermediate products.

DIN

The German Institute for Standardization. By agreement with the German Federal Government, DIN is the acknowledged national standards body that represents German interests in European and international standards organizations.

Downcycling

Consequences of design failures to provide products a status as defined biological nutrients or technical nutrients. It is the name for the practice of recycling a material in such a way that much of its inherent value is degraded (e.g. recycling plastic into park benches) revealing poor design of a lifecycle and the related material flows. 


Earthster

A Free open source platform for assessing and reporting a product's social and environmental impact. 

Easily separable

In order to be considered “easily separable,” dissimilar materials must be able to be separated using nothing more complex than common hand tools, and the separation must be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Effect concentration 50 (EC50)

The median exposure concentration (EC50) is the median concentration of a substance that causes some effect in 50 percent of the test animals.

Embodied energy

The energy consumed by all the processes required to produce a product. This includes the manufacturing energy for all the materials, sub components, and components as well as the energy to assemble all components into the finished product. Transportation energy is not included here.

Endangered forest

Endangered forests are the most valuable forests on the globe, forests that would be irreparably harmed by industrial resource extraction. In practical terms this means these forests are “no go” and “no buy” forests. These forests comprise a large proportion of the world’s remaining old-growth, primary and ancient forests in tropical, temperate and boreal zones.

Endocrine disruptor

A substance that mimics, blocks, or interferes with hormones and their production, metabolism, and excretion causing malfunction of the endocrine system which can lead to malfunction of the reproductive, nervous, and immune systems.

Excessive work time

ILO definition: More than 48 hours/week; more than 8 hours/day

http://www.ilo.org/global/standards/subjects-covered-by-international-labour-standards/working-time/lang--en/index.htm 


Facility

A facility is termed as the final step of the manufacturing process before distribution to end-user market.

Final manufacture/assembly

The assembly of homogeneous materials or assemblies into a finished product. This occurs at the client’s facility, or at a contract facility, and is typically the last step before the product is sold to the customer. While the exact definition of “final manufacture/ assembly” may vary from industry to industry, the idea is to have a consistent definition across each specific industry to “level the playing field” for those manufacturers that have different levels of vertical integration.

Finish (noun)

A surface pretreatment or coating for a variety of materials.

Fish toxicity

Several Genera and Species of fish found in lakes, ponds, and streams that are part of the food chain are tested for their reaction to chemical exposure. Chemicals that kill fish are considered dangerous to aquatic eco-systems due to the possible food chain effects and food source depletion. Fish Toxicity is a measure of a substance’s toxicity when consumed by these various types of fish. A common measuring tool is LC50 (“lethal concentration”), which is the concentration of a substance in the water required to kill fifty (50) percent of the fish test population. If LC50 < 10 mg/l, the substance is considered fish toxic.

Forced labor

U Global Compact definition: work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of a penalty and which the person has not entered into of his or her own free will.

Fully defined

A product is considered “fully defined” when all homogeneous materials have been identified by generic material type, and specific grade/trade name.

Fundamental human rights

Please refer to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (United Nations, 1948)
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml ;


GaBi

Life-cycle assessment tool for modeling social, environmental, and economic impacts of products and systems attributed to material flows and processes.

GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, The

International accounting tool to quantify, manage, and report greenhouse gas emissions.

 

GHG Protocol Product Standard

Standardized methodology for quantifying, managing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions throughout a product’s life-cycle.

Global warming potential

A scale used to relate a compound to the CO2 equivalents to measure the potential heating effects on the atmosphere.

Gold Standard, The

International organization that provides transparency in carbon offset projects and awards projects that are driving sustainable development and local benefits.


Half-life (T1/2)

The amount of time it takes for half of an initial concentration of substance to degrade in the environment.

Halogenated organic compounds

The column in the periodic chart of the elements that begins with Fluorine contains the halogens. These elements, when combined with organic compounds, form halogenated organic compounds. Most of these compounds are toxic, carcinogenic, persistent, ozone depleting or bioaccumulative, or form hazardous substances during production and disposal (e.g., PVC). 

Hazard endpoint

For the purposes of the Cradle to Cradle® Chemical Profiling Methodology, this term refers to the list of 24 human and environmental health endpoints that are reviewed for each chemical in the chemical hazard assessment process.

Hazard rating

The traffic light system that assigns a GREEN, YELLOW, RED, or GREY rating to each hazard endpoint based on the hazard criteria. The hazard criteria are based on available toxicity and fate information for each chemical.

Heavy metal

The term "Heavy Metals" is generally interpreted to include those metals from periodic table groups IIA through VIA. The semi-metallic elements: boron, arsenic, selenium, and tellurium are often included in this classification.

Heterogenous material

Any material that does not fit within the definition of a homogeneous material.

Homogenous material

A material of uniform composition throughout that cannot be mechanically disjointed, in principal, into different materials (RoHS definition).

Hybrid products

Goods that are composed of both biological nutrients and technical nutrients. Certain components are designed to biodegrade, and therefore return to natural systems, while others can remain in a nutrient recovery system of manufacture, use and recovery.


Industrial metabolism

Transformations that one and the same material may experience for successive reoccurrence on the market in form of new products. A product with a potential as biological nutrient may be managed as technical nutrient (e.g. management of cellulose fibers in a cascade starting with wood furniture products and ending as toilette paper). In contrast, a product without potential as biological nutrient must be able to be managed as technical nutrient. Industrial metabolism targets assurance of renewal of biological resources at least at the rate they are processed industrially. 

Input

Inputs refer to the chemicals, mixtures, simple and complex materials, assemblies or sub-assemblies that make up a product.

Inseperable component

Smallest unit of an object that is either not designed to or cannot be readily disassembled by the end user into individual materials. 

Irritation of skin/mucous membranes

For the testing of skin irritation with the standard Draize test, rabbits are used. The chemical is applied to the rabbit skin and usually kept in contact for four hours. The degree of skin irritation is scored for erythema, eschar, edema formation, and corrosive action. These dermal irritation observations are repeated at various intervals after the chemical has been removed. Mucous membrane irritation is measured in a similar manner. Site-specific mechanical responses within the respiratory tract and eyes are measured, and a chemical is classified as an irritant based on the conclusions of these tests.

ISO

The International Organization for Standardization is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards.


Lethal concentration 50 (LC50)

The inhalative median lethal concentration (LC50) is the median concentration of a substance that causes death in 50 percent of the test animals.

Lethal dose 50 (LD50)

The median lethal dose (LD50) is the statistically derived median dose of a substance that can be expected to cause death in 50 percent of the test animals.

Living wage

The ILO defines a living wage as that “sufficient to meet the basic living needs of an average-sized family in a particular economy”. Living wage is not covered by the ILO conventions.

LOAEL

The lowest-observed-adverse-effect level is the lowest concentration or amount of a substance found by experiment or observation which causes an adverse alteration of morphology, function, capacity, growth, development or life span of a target organism distinguished from normal organisms of the same species under defined conditions of exposure. 


Managed nutrient (MN)

Managed nutrients can be technical or biological in nature. If the product or any of its assemblies, components, or materials meets the following definition and verification requirements for an MN, the Applicant can exclude these from the 100ppm (0.01%) inventory, assessment, and optimization requirements:

i. There is a defined “take back” system or “nutrient management” program in place for this product or product input, measured by the amount of material recovered after use. In order to qualify, 100% of the MN must be recovered.

ii. There are NO components/materials that have a direct interaction with humans and/or natural systems through INTENDED use or HIGHLY PROBABLE UNINTENDED use.

iii. Off-gas testing has proven that no harmful substances are being emitted.

 

Material

A group of one or more chemicals that together comprise a component or input to a finished product.

Material assessment

A modified risk assessment process for rating materials based on the intrinsic human and environmental health hazards posed by their ingredients as well as the relevant routes of exposure for those ingredients in the material and in the finished product. This analysis takes into account the intended use of the material/product as well as highly likely unintended uses, throughout the product’s lifecycle.

Material assessment methodology

A modified risk assessment process for rating materials based on the intrinsic human and environmental health hazards posed by their ingredients as well as the relevant routes of exposure for those ingredients in the material and in the finished product. The nutrient potential of the material is included here as well.

Materials registry

A listing of material, parts or component suppliers whose products have been benchmarked against the Material Health requirements of version 3.0 of the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Product Program. The registry has been created to promote greater transparency in the supply chain and to recognize suppliers who are aspiring to optimize their products. The registry is also an excellent resource for companies to consult when specifying materials for their products, especially if interested in applying for Cradle to Cradle certification. 

Mixture

Two or more substances, which have been combined such that each substance retains its own chemical identity.

Mode of action

Mode of action refers to the specific biochemical interaction of a drug or chemical through which an adverse health effect is produced.  A mode of action includes specific molecular targets to which a chemical will bind.

Mutagen

This is a substance that may cause hereditary disorders in the offspring due to mutations in the chromosomes of the male or female reproductive cells. These mutations can be alterations in the structure or number of chromosomes, or nucleotide substitutions known as point mutations.


NOAEL

(No observed adverse effect level) denotes the level of exposure of an organism, found by experiment or observation, at which there is no biologically or statistically significant (e.g. alteration of morphology, functional capacity, growth, development or life span) increase in the frequency or severity of any adverse effects in the exposed population when compared to its appropriate control.


Octanol-water partitioning coefficient (Pow or Kow)

A measure of the tendency of a chemical to partition between an aliphatic hydrocarbon system and an aqueous system. Often used as a predictor for bioaccumulation potential.

Ozone depletion potential

This is the measure of the ozone depleting characteristics of the substance. Ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere leads to an increase of UV-radiation on the earth and as a result, an increase in skin cancer. CFCs are included here.


Part

A vended component or input to a product that is made of only one specific type of material. 

Partially recycable

A material that is only downcyclable. Resulting material is of lower quality and/or value; resulting material will most likely be landfilled at the end of use. For example, the options for recycling of thermosets are very limited.

PAS 2050

Method designed by Publicly Available Specification (PAS) to assess life-cycle emissions of goods and services

Persistence

This is a measure of a substance's ability to remain as a discrete chemical entity in the environment for a prolonged period of time. A common measuring tool for persistence is "half- life" (t1/2), which is the amount of time required for half of the substance to breakdown. If half-life is greater than 30 days in the air, or if half-life is greater than 50 days in soil, water, or any other media the substance is considered to be persistent.

Physico-chemical classification

Chemical classification by properties such as molecular weight, electrical charge: uncharged, positively, negatively, partially charged, formal charge, oxidation state, solubility, and pH value 

Post-consumer recycled content

Materials that have been collected for recycling after consumer use.

Pre-consumer recycled content

Materials collected for recycling prior to consumer use; comes from sources outside of the applicant manufacturer’s facility, and has been modified before being suitable for recycling back into a manufacturing process. Waste materials directly incorporated back into the manufacturing process within the applicant facility do not apply.

Precautionary principle

The precautionary principle states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.

Primary data

Observed process data are specific to the given processes owned and operated by the reporting company. Such as direct emissions, energy, or physical data.

Process chemical

Chemicals used during the manufacturing stages of product development.

Product

A product is a finished good, under review for Cradle to Cradle certification, composed of parts, assemblies, sub-assemblies, materials, or chemicals. In addition, a product is the result of design decisions of its producer. The design encompasses the functional use of the product, the post-use handling, the fate of supplied ingredients used to produce it and decisions made (or not made) for a contribution to success (or failure) of the product to be beneficial under all these circumstances.

Program category

The term "CATEGORIES" in this context will refer to the 6 program attributes which products are scored against. These include material health, material reutilization, energy, water stewardship, social responsibility, and support of biodiversity.


Quantitative structure-activity relationship analysis (QSAR)

Technique for comparing molecular structure and physicochemical properties of a chemical having unknown hazards with molecular structures and physiochemical properties of other similar chemicals having known toxic or carcinogenic effects.


Rapidly renewable resource

A material that is able to grow back in 10 years. See also RENEWABLE RESOURCE.

Rating

Chemical Profiles and Material Assessments are given a GREEN, YELLOW, RED, or GREY rating based on inherent hazards. 

Readily disassembled

Capable of being deconstructed with the use of common hand tools (i.e. wrench, screw driver, pliers, scissors, etc.). 

Recyclable

A material can technically be recycled at least once after its initial use phase.  At a minimum, the material’s physical and mechanical properties allow it to be re-melted or size reduced and used as filler with similar or dissimilar materials (downcycled). It is preferable to select materials that may be recycled into like or higher value products when possible. However it is understood that this is difficult to define as the collection infrastructure and recycling technologies are still in the early stages of development and the economic value of materials will change in the future.

Unless there is an automated process for disassembling and reducing size of materials with adequate identification and sorting technologies to produce the highest quality recyclate possible, then attention must be paid to the design and construction of products so that dissimilar materials can be economically separated for recycling. Ideally, disassembly instructions are provided to the end user and/or recycling facilities, recyclable parts are marked, and disassembly is possible using commonly available tools. If the product is too complex for the consumer or third parties to disassemble and/or is designed as a Managed Nutrient, the consumer should be provided with instructions on where to send the product after use.

The Cradle to Cradle definition of “recyclable” is different from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) definition. While the intentions of the FTC to protect consumers from deceptive marketing claims is logical and laudable, it may also be unintentionally creating disincentives for manufacturers because it limits their ability to use the diversity of materials whose physical properties are very recyclable, but that are not actually recycled, due to the lack of economically profitable collection and recycling systems. 

Recycled content

Proportion, by mass, of recycled material within a product that has been recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream, either during the manufacturing process  (pre-consumer/post-industrial) or after consumer use (post-consumer).

Renewable energy credit

Tradable certificates produced by an authorized body that verifies electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.