“I believe we can accomplish great and profitable things within a new conceptual framework – one that values our legacy, honors diversity, and feeds ecosystems and societies ... It is time for designs that are creative, abundant, prosperous, and intelligent from the start.” – William A. Mcdonough, pioneer of the Cradle-to-Cradle design.
Entrepreneurs in Venlo, a town in the Netherlands, saw the benefits of the new Cradle-to-Cradle concept and decided to apply it to their town. Together with McDonough and Michael Braungart, they managed to convince the industries, policy-makers and creative people of Venlo to adapt to the concept by making sure that ‘food=waste’.
This new concept is McDonough and Braungart’s answer to the Cradle-to-Grave design which is already in place among global industries. They believe its recycling capabilities run materials downhill until they become useless or harmful to ecosystems. For example, trees produce paper, which is recycled into low energy production cellulose insulation, then used as an energy-saving device in the ceiling of a home for 40 years, saving 2,000 times the fossil-fuel energy used in its production. After 40 years the cellulose fibers are replaced and the old fibers are incinerated.
However, they found it was easier said than done, and as the local design collective Qreamteam put it, ‘It was easier said than done.’ They claim not even McDonough and Braungart have the real solution or many viable practical examples. One example of Cradle-to-Cradle carpet (Shaw) or a car factory with a green roof (Ford Rouge) is not enough for these eager people to prove that Cradle-to-Cradle can really work. The Venlonians agree that it is a bit of a utopia and very difficult to put into practice by the industry.
But the town of Venlo is not giving up on their Cradle-to-Cradle aspirations.
The Floriade in 2012, the World Horticulture Fair, is held there every 10 years. The Floriade designers have decided to adapt Cradle-to-Cradle as their main theme, building a 66-hectare sustainable fairground, which afterwards will be used to build Greenpark Venlo, a planned green business area. And then there is Steven Spielberg who wants to include Venlo in his documentary about Cradle-to-Cradle. Where will it go from here?