Principles and Implementation

Waste equals Food

The processes of every single organism in a living system contribute to the health and well-being of the system as a whole. The leaves of a tree, for example, its “waste”, fall to the ground where they are broken down and become nutrients for other organisms. Microbes feed off this organic "waste" and, as a result, return many valuable nutrients to the soil that the tree can profit from. The “waste” of one organism is thus nutrients for another. Plans made by humans that attempt to replicate this nutrient cycle – cycles in which waste no longer occurs – form the very the foundation of the material flow systems that are a fundamental component of the Cradle to Cradle® method of production.

Use current solar income

The first industrial revolution obtained its energy predominantly from the reservoirs of the past. Fossil fuels were used that had been created millions of years ago. Nuclear energy places great strains and very dangerous responsibilities on many future generations. Systems that are driven using solar energy are systems that are using today’s energy without having to put the futures of our children and their children at risk. It is most certainly within the capabilities of today’s technology to profitably incorporate the use of and reliance on solar energy into the design of production systems. The direct capture of solar energy is one possibility. Wind energy, created as a result of sunlight causing thermal differences in the atmosphere, is a further source. Biomass and other energy sources also form creditable possibilities.

Celebrate diversity

Natural systems function and flourish through complexity. Compared to the standard solutions of the industrial revolution and to the uniformity so highly prized by globalization, nature supports an almost unending abundance of variety and diversity. How we go about manufacturing products must be similarly tackled with the same flair for diversity and variety. To concentrate on only the one criterion is to create instability and imbalance in a wider context and represents what we term an “ism”, an extreme, or completely detached, solution that is outside the actual structure of the problem.


Cradle to Cradle® is a roadmap driven approach with the goal of changing the industry by building supporting networks and cooperations between suppliers, producers, customers, governments, etc. enabling the necessary innovations to be successful in the market and be profitable.

The roadmap acts as a strategic tool to communicate concrete milestones to all involved parties and to make progress measurable and adjustable by comparing the achievements in reality to the roadmap as time progresses.

A general Cradle to Cradle® roadmap includes the following steps:

  • Know where you are at now (status quo)
  • Define smart goals towards Cradle to Cradle® (2015, 2020)
  • Set sincere milestones
  • Communicate transparently on the progress
  • Invite your customers and other industry partners to join
  • Secure profitability and growth of business to achieve the Cradle to Cradle® goals