Design for Innovation!

What can we achieve in our capacity as beneficial organisms? Where do we begin? The Cradle to Cradle design concept is based on the

fundamental assumptions of the Cradle to Cradle school of thought and spells out what that specifically means for the manufacturing of products. The concept consists of three underlying principles, all of which build on the inherent intelligence of natural systems.

The first principle says: „waste equals food“. It means that all materials that we use can perpetually circulate in cycles. Waste does not exist. As opposed to classic recycling the quality of the materials does not degrade when they are being re-utilised. As a result materials, and therefore resources, are no longer wasted but instead become „food“ for new products. One could also say: „food is food“. In order for this concept to function we make a distinction between the biosphere and the technosphere. The biosphere encompasses biological cycles, i.e. consumables that are in direct contact with the environment, for example through abrasion. The technosphere consists of technical cycles for consumables. These are products (or components) that aren‘t subject to wear and tear. Depending on which sphere they belong to products have different usage scenarios and are subject to different requirements. Both determine which materials a product will be made from. These materials circulate in perpetual cycles. Whenever it makes sense both spheres – or cycles – can enter into partnerships for certain products.

A case in point would be a bicycle: whereas the frame is a classic element of the technical cycle the tyres are subject to wear and therefore part of the biological cycle. When their lifespan ends the materials can be separated and re-purposed – and they don‘t necessarily have to be turned into the same product again. However, recyclable products alone aren‘t enough! The C2C design concept also calls for the utilisation of materials that are healthy for humans as well as for the environment in pre-defined usage scenarios. One example is copper: in a biological cycle the metal would be toxic, whereas in a technical cycle it could be used without posing any problems. It‘s also important that the environmental impact of any materials we use can be reversed. So a lot depends on how certain materials are used and in which capacity. In addition, the design concept defines these materials positively: unlike many concepts that are based on being free of certain ingredients the C2C concept defines, which materials may safely be used in the respective cycles, thereby ensuring that one pollutant isn‘t simply replaced by another.

We use current solar income energies for the manufacturing of intelligent, recyclable and innovative products. That‘s the second principle. The sun is the driver behind all natural processes, and it will remain a dependable source of energy for many future generations.

The third principle urges us to „celebrate and promote diversity“ – plurality is a huge advantage. Nature has shown us that diverse eco systems are oftentimes more resilient and more  flexible. Unification, which is one of the central hallmarks of the industrial revolution, is often a dead end. The C2C design concept calls for the integration of a variety of ideas, concepts, opinions, habits and cultures.