Natural product companies urged to consider Cradle-to-Cradle approach

Natural product companies urged to consider Cradle-to-Cradle approach

Organic Monitor believes the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) design approach offers a novel way for the natural & organic product companies to integrate sustainability into their business practices.

A growing number of natural & organic product companies are looking to shore up their ecological credentials in response to rising consumer expectations. Organic Monitor (www.organicmonitor.com) 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 to the C2C design approach are given a certification. C2C has thus 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Although originally made for industrial design and manufacturing, the C2C approach has expanded into consumer goods that include food & beverages, personal care products, cleaning products, apparel and office products. However, Organic Monitor research finds the adoption rate in the natural & organic products industry is very low. This is surprising considering many such companies have sustainability built into their corporate ethos.

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

Aveda, a leading natural personal care company, was one of the first to adopt the C2C design approach. Established in 1978, the company is now the largest buyer of organic essential oils in the world. It has set up many organic agricultural projects in Latin America, Africa and Australasia to secure supply of organic ingredients. By adopting the C2C design approach, Aveda has gone beyond just making ecological and safe personal care products. It has pioneered many sustainability initiatives that have had positive impacts on the environment and social communities.

Aveda is the first beauty company to power its manufacturing plant and head office with renewable energy. The company has become the largest buyer of green energy in Minnesota, keeping 5,500 tons of CO2 out of the air. Aveda is also the largest user of recycled plastic in the beauty industry, saving over 1 million pounds of virgin plastic each year. 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 & 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.

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit

William McDonough, co-founder of the Cradle-To-Cradle Design approach, will be giving the opening keynote at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, taking place in New York on 12-14th May 2011. Aveda and Procter & Gamble will also be sharing their experiences in adopting the C2C design approach at the summit. There are just 7 places left for this executive summit. More details are on www.sustainablecosmeticssummit.com.

Sustainable Foods Summit

Professor Dr. Michael Braungart, co-founder of the Cradle-To-Cradle Design approach, will be giving a keynote at the Sustainable Foods Summit, taking place in Amsterdam on 23-24th June 2011. His paper will look at how food & ingredient companies can create positive impacts by the C2C design approach. More details are on www.sustainablefoodssummit.com.

About Organic Monitor

Organic Monitor is a specialist research, consulting & training company that focuses on the global organic & related product industries. In 2011, we are celebrating 10 years of encouraging sustainable development. Our services include market research publications, business & technical consulting, summits, seminars & workshops. Visit us at www.organicmonitor.com.

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