Natural product companies urged to consider Cradle 2 Cradle Approach

Co-founders to give keynotes at Sustainable Summits

A growing number of natural and organic product companies are looking to shore up their ecological credentials in response to rising consumer expectations. Organic Monitor believes the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) design approach offers a novel way for these companies to integrate sustainability into their business practices.

Designed by McDonough & Braungart, the C2C design approach involves production processes in which nutrients are recycled at the end of their life-cycles. It takes a holistic approach to product design, seeking to create systems that are not just efficient but waste-free. Products made in accordance with the C2C design approach are given a certification and C2C has evolved from a systems approach into an eco-label.

Although originally made for industrial design and manufacturing, the C2C approach has expanded into consumer goods that include food and beverages, personal care products, cleaning products, apparel and office products. However, Organic Monitor says its research finds the adoption rate in the natural and organic products industry is very low, which is surprising considering many such companies have sustainability built into their corporate ethos.

With consumers increasingly demanding more from natural and organic products, the C2C approach enables companies to create positive impacts rather than minimising negative ones. As will be shown in the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit ( and Sustainable Foods Summit (, it also allows natural and organic product companies to expand their sustainability horizons, says Organic Monitor.

Aveda was one of the first to adopt the C2C design approach and has now gone beyond just making ecological and safe personal care products to become a pioneer of sustainability initiatives that have had positive impacts on the environment and social communities. It is the first beauty company to power its manufacturing plant and head office with renewable energy; has become the largest buyer of green energy in Minnesota, keeping 5,500 tons of CO2 out of the air; is the largest user of recycled plastic in the beauty industry, saving over 1 million pounds of virgin plastic each year; and its ‘Recycle Caps with Aveda’ campaign has had a positive contribution by removing 37 million polypropylene caps from the environment. By undertaking social investment projects, the company has also built schools, hospitals and energy plants for indigenous tribes in the Amazon.

Although natural and organic product companies are expanding their sustainability practices, most are undertaking initiatives in isolation like ethical sourcing and eco-design packaging. The C2C design encourages companies to take a holistic view, covering many aspects from raw material sourcing, production processes, packaging to the materials left at the end of the product’s lifecycle. Adoption rates of the C2C eco-label remains low, however it has the potential to break companies from their ‘natural’ moulds and become truly sustainable, says Organic Monitor.

William McDonough, co-founder of the Cradle-To-Cradle Design approach, will be giving the opening keynote at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York (12-14th May 2011). Aveda and Procter & Gamble will also be sharing their experiences in adopting the C2C design approach at the summit.

At the Sustainable Foods Summit (Amsterdam, 23-24th June) Professor Dr Michael Braungart, co-founder of the Cradle-To-Cradle Design approach, will give a keynote presentation, looking at how food and ingredient companies can create positive impacts by using the C2C design approach.