Looking Ahead


The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, a guidance and evaluation system for product designers and manufacturers that is at the heart of the Institute’s work to turn the making of things into a positive force for people, planet, and profits.

As the Institute looks at its past, present and future, our leadership knows we are in the midst of a difficult and challenging long-term process. To help plot our progress, we have found a useful framework[1] for managing transitions to a sustainable future, established by Derk Loorbach and Jan Rotmans of the International Center for Integrative Studies (ICIS), Maastricht University. The authors track the key transitions of a transformation through four distinct phases or levels: Predevelopment, Lift-Off, Acceleration, and Stabilization.

We see 2015 being our year of Acceleration. The driving force is the global growth of the sustainability movement, especially in the business world, where leaders are looking for the solutions we are confident we can provide.

According to recent findings by the Sustainability and Innovation Global Executive Study by the MIT Sloan Management Review, the “sustainability movement” is reaching its tipping point as a worldwide business concern. Some 70% of respondents say their companies have put sustainability on their management agenda.

Yet the same findings suggest that most companies are struggling to define sustainability in a way that is relevant to their businesses.

Similarly, nearly two-thirds of respondents rate social and environmental issues, such as pollution or employee health, as “significant” or “very significant” among their sustainability concerns. Yet only about 40% report that their organizations are largely addressing them. Even worse, only 10% say their companies fully tackle these issues.

At the Institute, we know the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program is a brilliantly devised system for closing the gap between vague sustainability intentions and concrete sustainability improvements.  In the words of our board chair, Warner Philips, the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program “might be one of best design paradigms for product manufacturers to “almost guarantee” that the sustainability dimensions of product innovations are met and sustainability ROI is maximized.”

Nearly 200 companies have participated in the certified products program, developing thousands of products that are safe, endlessly reusable, made with renewable power and made in ways that protect water supplies and treat people fairly. To bridge to this Acceleration phase, an exponentially greater number of companies and consumers need to understand the benefits that come with Cradle to Cradle product certification. So 2015 through 2017 are mission critical moments for the Institute and the early Cradle to Cradle community. In the next two years, the number of product manufacturers participating in the system must grow a thousand fold. And the number of consumers looking for such products must multiply by millions.

Our work and the work of our partners, the companies who have implemented certification, can lead a global re- industrialization that enables human enterprise and natural enterprise to follow the same set of laws. Because it is our mission to: ‘Start a new industrial revolution that turns the making of things into a positive force for people, economy, and planet. ‘

Join us.

[1] Reference: https://www.upc.edu/sostenible2015/menu2/Seminaris/Seminari_STD/docs/derk_loorbach.pdf