Reuse of materials is a hot subject in the construction sector. Particularly now that the Dutch government wants the Netherlands to become the first entirely circular economy in the world. “A Cradle to Cradle certificate demonstrates that a (construction) material meets with all the standards of the circular economy,” explains Udo Waltman, Director of SGS Search, in this second part of a triptych for the ‘Circular construction in one day’ seminar.
SGS Search is one of the few parties worldwide able to supervise this certification. “An independently verified Cradle to Cradle certificate is the perfect means of showing your product meets with all aspects of the circular economy,” observes Waltman. “It not only addresses the reuse of materials and the product itself, but also looks into the health and safety aspects of material use and sustainable production processes, as well as at the social aspects.”
“All these elements are checked for across the entire chain. With construction materials this mainly concerns circularity and recycled raw materials. In the clothing sector ‘social fairness’ is a key theme, whilst with toys we focus on the health aspects by banning a range of chemical substances. The emphasis on any one of the five themes of the Cradle to Cradle certificate can therefore vary in strength across different sectors, but in a circular economy they are all vital.”
The Cradle to Cradle certificate has various grades: basic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The higher the grade, the better you demonstrate that your product and production line is ‘less harmful’, and may even result in a positive impact on its users and the environment. Waltman has also noticed that a Cradle to Cradle certificate exerts considerable influence on the way a company regards itself and its products.
Changing a mindset
“Manufacturers don’t always have a complete picture of the exact chemical substances their products contain. We research this down to the very finest details in the certification process. This can at times be a real eye-opener for our clients. We also often notice that via Cradle to Cradle, a company’s entire mindset will change. They will not only work on the product we certify, but also start looking at other items. A window, for example, will then no longer be fixed using a chemical sealant, but will be attached using a profile produced by Cradle to Cradle,” concludes Waltman. “Just one example of how new ways of thinking can ripple out through an organisation by collaborating with Cradle to Cradle. That’s a great development.”