Blog Post 9: Waste Reduction
Cradle to Cradle
For the longest time recycling has been the only means of reusing waste so that it does not biodegrade at an extremely slow rate in a landfill. This has been the only alternative to waste, but a new more efficient and ethical idea has broken onto the scene. The problem with recycling is that products are not designed so that they may be recycled after their use and most products, even if they are recyclable, are not recycled. A new design procedure, known as Cradle to Cradle design, might be the answer to the waste and recycling problem. This approach to product design fundamentally seeks to change the way things are made through biological engineering. In Cradle to Cradle (C2C) design, human made products are modeled after nature and its regenerative processes. Products will be made with “biological nutrients”, which can be decomposed, and “technical nutrients”, which can be put back in the manufacturing system to be remade. An example used in the book Cradle to Cradle (McDonough & Braungart), gives the example of a chair made from cloth and aluminum. The technical nutrients (aluminum) of the chair can be up-cycled back into the production sector of society and the biological nutrients (cloth) can be biodegraded so that nutrients are put back into the earth. “Some chemical companies say it is more profitable and environmentally beneficial to design and produce chemicals that may be readily recovered as raw materials once a product’s useful life has ended. (Scott)” This approach to design attempts to not only reduce waste, but to end waste all together so that our system of production is in a constant cycle; therefore there is no endpoint or garbage. The problem facing the C2C design concept is that it is in fact just a concept. As of right now, our industry does not try to act holistically with nature and until we as a society can change that we will keep producing costly amounts of waste. This innovative way of thinking is “gaining traction even beyond industry as some retailers and government officials advocate C2C as the basis for the next industrial revolution. (Scott)”
Alston, K. (2008). Cradle to Cradle design initiatives: Lessons and opportunities for prevention through design (PtD). Journal of Safety Research, 39(2), 135-136. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2008.02.017
McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press.
Braungart, M., McDonough, W., & Bollinger, A. (2007). Cradle-to-cradle design: creating healthy emissions – a strategy for eco-effective product and system design. Journal of Cleaner Production, 15(13/14), 1337-1348. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2006.08.003
Scott, A. (2009). Green Chemistry: Cradle-to-Cradle System Gains Momentum. (Cover story). Chemical Week, 171(4), 18-21. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.