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Cradle to Cradle® Certification

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Evaluation Tool

Cradle to Cradle® Certification

Tool Category

Standards, Certifications & Labels

At a Glance

Cradle to Cradle® is a multi-attribute certification process that applies to materials, sub-assemblies and finished products. It's goal is to assess a product’s safety to humans and the environment, and design for recyclability or compostability, and responsible manufacturing processes. Retailers should note there are 4 levels of product certification with additional requirements at each level.

Tool Website(s) and

Tool Owner/Sponsor

Developed by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute will audit and issue product certifications.

Type of Entity


Focus of Evaluation

Substances, products, product lines

Product Stage of Life Evaluated

Raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, consumer use, end of life

Impact(s) Evaluated

Ecological health, energy use, human health, material impacts, social responsibility.water emissions, water use. See criteria:

Tool Description

The Cradle to Cradle® certification program includes requirements for:

  • Material health — the toxicity of every material that goes into a product is examined and a path to improve product design and safety to humans and the environment is provided to manufacturers
  • Material reutilization — promotes design that encourages the recyclability of the product for future uses.
  • Renewable energy use — manufacturers are encouraged to go beyond energy efficiency and commit themselves to renewable sources of energy during the manufacturing process.
  • Water stewardship — manufacturers are encouraged to operate in a way that has the water leaving the factory as clean as or cleaner than when it came in.
  • Social responsibility — manufacturers are encouraged to practice business in a way that respects the health, safety, and rights of people and the planet.

There are four levels of product certification: Basic, Silver, Gold, Platinum. In order to achieve certification at a certain level, the product and manufacturing processes must meet the criteria at that level in all five requirement categories.

Products or materials from any industry that are sold to consumers or other businesses are eligible for certification. Certification criteria are the same for all product types.

Product Categories

All Sectors

Tool Requirements

Companies seeking certification must list product ingredients above 0.01% concentration, along with related MSDS's, test results, etc.. All products must be able to be disassembled and recycled. Data about the manufacturing process (including energy use, water use, and social responsibility practices) is also required. There are additional requirements with each level of certification.

Cost of Tool

Pricing ranges from $5,500 to $75,000+ depending on the chemical complexity of the product.

Evaluation Frequency

Certification is valid for one calendar year from the certification date and must be renewed on an annual basis.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: Supply chain is evaluated. Criteria used are all publicly available and are periodically reviewed in a multi-stakeholder process.

Weaknesses: Cradle to Cradle® certification is not really a certification at the lower levels, but is more of a review process.

Examples of Retailers That Use It

Steelcase, Nestle Waters North America, Kiehls, Method Home, Aveda

Similar Tools that Serve the Same Industry or Product Category

Green Seal, EcoLogo, EPA Design for Environment Safer Product Labeling Program

For More Information

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute :

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