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Market Research


Cradle to Cradle: a revolutionary change in production

Carola Siksma-Ruiters, Baby Wereld Magazine, member of Baby Care Magazines International (BCMI)

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There are currently 6.8 billion people on the planet and the world’s population continues to grow. All of these people require products and goods, but there are two major challenges that we face worldwide: 1) our resources are becoming scarcer and 2) we are generating an enormous amount of waste. Carefully produced products are simply discarded at the end of their lifecycle.

The Cradle to Cradle principle is based on the notion that all raw materials in a product can be carefully separated at the end of their lifecycle and reused for new, high-quality materials. This is achieved through recycling or biodegradation. Renewable energy is encouraged during every phase of the product cycle. With the Cradle to Cradle paradigm, you no longer consume materials, but 'borrow' them.

Remaking the way we make things
Dr. Michael Braungart is the spiritual father of the Cradle to Cradle principle and he was closely involved in the development of the EQO collection from Goodbaby, a juvenile products manufacturer that introduced this line of products in Shangai International Children-Baby-Maternity Products Expo. 

According to Braungart, “Goodbaby is the first manufacturer of baby products that subscribes to the Cradle to Cradle philosophy; the first in China at any rate. This entails a tremendous amount of change for the company. Our analysis included examining the use of all materials. Everything you see here - from aluminium and fabric to plastics and other parts - is recyclable or biodegradable.”

Companies such as Philips, Akzo Nobel and DSM are following these steps. And Braungart praises from Goodbaby for this initiative. “We need pioneers to spread this concept further.  Baby products are an excellent place to begin, since babies are the most vulnerable user group.”

Being less bad is not being good
Brauntgart expressed his concerns about the mountain of waste we are generating, and mentioned yet another major problem, namely, that far too many chemicals are used in baby and children’s products. He stated that he has also seen considerable use of phthalates at the Shangai expo, a plasticizer used to increase the flexibility of plastic that can affect fertility. Braungart urges us to take a closer look at the design and production method. He also believes we need to take a much more critical look at products that release gasses, such as wallpaper, carpets and packaging.

Also according to Braungart, innovation and quality are the key issues in this new way of making things: “It's not just about recycling, but about the dismantling of elements and, where possible, reusing them. That's why we use the term 'upcycling' instead of 'downcycling'".

Consumers can turn back all product metal frames to be reused, in exchange for a refund or a voucher. All frames are then collected and returned to the factory where they were assembled, and then disassembled to the point where the materials can be melted down to make new frames. The recycling of aluminium can even be profitable, as recyclable aluminium is quite valuable, sometimes up to 70% of the original value, as it takes a great deal of energy to produce aluminium from bauxite, a raw material.”

Environmentally aware consumers  

Experts also expect good acceptance by consumers, as they are becoming more and more environmentally aware and although these products will probably be a little more expensive. Europe should be ahead in this respect, and China is expected to follow the trend. Sales will probably be more difficult in the United States, given the greater focus on price.

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