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Back to the blogPatroness Svenja Schulze at the Cradle to Cradle Congress 2020

Portrait of Ludwig Rensch
Ludwig Rensch


Cradle to Cradle Congress

Cradle to Cradle is a design philosophy in which products are manufactured in such a way that when they reach the end of their lifecycle, their materials can either be reused or returned to the earth as nutrients. This creates a technical and biological cycle in which all materials circulate. This approach produces no trash at all. The Cradle to Cradle Congress took place in Berlin from January 31 to February 1, 2020. We attended it.

At the Cradle to Cradle Congress, representatives from the worlds of politics, business, and science discussed how we, as a society, can leave a positive footprint.

In this sense, the Cradle to Cradle concept could revolutionize consumption. If products can be completely disassembled and contain no toxic substances, everything serves as a nutrient for the biosphere or technosphere. This means renuncation is no longer key to sustainability. Instead, through intelligent design and production, we are creating a livable world in which humans are a beneficial organism on the earth.

„It's about being good, not „less bad“!”
Michael Braungart

German chemist Michael Braungart and American architect William McDonough established the concept in the late nineties. In 2002, their excellent book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things was published.

Michael Braungart has been developing and researching the Cradle to Cradle concept since the 1990s.

The congress had around 1,000 visitors, which made it the largest of its kind so far. Most of the speakers were able to give a short keynote speech, and afterwards, there was a panel discussion. The various perspectives illuminating the topic of sustainability and circular economies were exciting.

There were technical insights and developments such as bio-based and bio-compostable plastics, sorting systems that use imprinted fluorescent particles to identify objects in fractions of a second, and a block chain-driven system to guarantee the transparency and secure traceability of global supply chains.

The production and distribution of textiles and fashion received a particular degree of attention. Yarn producers were present who can, for example, produce first-class nylon 6 from presumed waste such as fishing nets or yield new cellulose-based yarns from old textiles. Labels including C&A, Trigema, LIDL, and more have now brought Cradle2Cradle-certified products onto the market and reported on challenges such as how to implement required production standards in Bangladesh.

Political perspectives also played an important role, as the taxation of raw materials and products, bans, and certificates define the rules for the economy — and thus represent a key lever in transitioning to a sustainable world. From the Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Svenja Schulze, who acted as patron of the congress, to Delara Burkhardt, member of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, attendees were able to grasp the complexities involved in global climate policy.

The lectures offered a lot of discussion material and provided for versatile discussions.

At Intuity, we work with our clients to develop sustainable products and services. Sustainability concepts that are economically unviable will not prevail. At the same time, business models built on exploiting scarce resources and poisoning the earth cannot be seen as a sustainable, long-term business strategy. Cradle to Cradle is, therefore, one of the most exciting concepts addressing how we can achieve a positive effect on people, communities, and our environment – through intelligent design.