‘Remaking the way we make things’ Braungart, McDonough
Imagine a world in which the industrial mimicked nature. This is the simple philosophy behind cradle-to-cradle life cycle assessment coined by German chemist Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough.
The cradle-to-cradle lifecycle has many positive differences when compared to the cradle-to-grave lifecycle. The first major differentiation is how each views the last step in a products lifecycle. The cradle-to-grave system focuses on creating waste that is ‘less’ harmful for the environment, which in actuality is still harmful. It is a lifecycle system in which all materials, inputs and outputs are considered for all phases of a lifecycle. In comparison the last step in the cradle-to-cradle system is a recycling process and from this a new material is born and the system starts again – just as in nature.
“Takes makes and wastes” Braungart, McDonough
The cradle-to-cradle system prides itself on making waste because just like in nature this waste can be absorbed back into the environment ready to be utilised again and again. All materials, inputs and outputs are seen as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients composed or consumed.
A company that is finding the cradle-to-cradle system invaluable is Ford Motor Company. As storm water would wash over the vast production plant, chimneys, gas towers and car parks it picked up toxins and cinders, which washed into and polluted the nearby Rouge River. The solution was developing ‘green spaces’, a ‘green roof’ and porous pavements, which could naturally absorb water and promote bird and animal activity.
As well as this system mimicking nature it also came at a cost far less than for had expected which makes the cradle-to-cradle system invaluable for a sustainable relationship between the industrial and nature, well into the future.