Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education

2019 Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho

Cradle-to-Cradle for Sustainable Development: From Ecodesign to Circular Economy

  • Andreas Meyer
  • Petra SchneiderEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11352-0_273


Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) is a design concept developed in the 1990s by Michael Braungart, William McDonough, and the EPEA International Environmental Research Hamburg. It stands for innovation, quality, and good design and describes the safe and potentially infinite circulation of materials and nutrients in cycles. C2C is a design concept that has nature as its model (McDonough and Braungart (2009) Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. Vintage, London). All products are designed according to the principle of a potentially infinite circular economy. C2C differs from conventional recycling and the concept of eco-efficiency. The C2C design concept is eco-effective and goes beyond the conventional tools and approaches that primarily depict people’s negative impact on the environment. It takes economic, ecological, and social aspects into account, following the principles of the Triple Bottom Line according to Elkington ((1997) Cannibals with forks – triple bottom line of 21st century business. New Society Publishers, Stoney Creek). Raw material cycles play a central role within the C2C concept and are distinguished between the biological and the technical cycle. Cradle–to-Cradle is next to the product certification also a school of thought. As such, C2C addresses sustainability, particularly the Sustainability Development Goals (SDG): 3 (Good health and well-being), 8 (Decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible consumption and production), and 13 (Climate Action).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bernosky JJ (2011) Overview of environmental laws and regulations: navigating the green maze. American Water Works Association, Denver, p 63Google Scholar
  2. Boons F, Spekkink W, Mouzakitis Y (2011) The dynamics of industrial symbiosis: a proposal for a conceptual framework based upon a comprehensive literature review. J Clean Prod 19(9):905–911CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braungart M, McDonough W, Bollinger A (2007) Cradle-to-cradle design: creating healthy emissions a strategy for eco-effective product and system design. J Clean Prod 15(13–14):1337–1348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) (2018). Schadstoffe in Plastik. Berlin. https://www.bund.net/chemie/achtung-plastik/schadstoffe-in-plastik/. 01/19/2018
  5. Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) (2016) Einführung in die Bewertung der Bekleidungstextilien. Berlin. http://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/343/einfuehrung-in-die-problematik-der-bekleidungstextilien.pdf. 01/19/2018
  6. Burchart-Korol D, Czaplicka-Kolarz K, Kruczek M (2012) Eco-efficiency and eco-effectiveness concepts in supply chain management. Congress Proceedings Carpathian Logistics Congress CLC Jesenik, Czech RepublicGoogle Scholar
  7. Chertow MR (2007) “Uncovering” industrial symbiosis. J Ind Ecol 11:11–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute (C2CPIIa). Assessors. http://www.c2ccertified.org/get-certified/find-an-assessor. 01/20/2018
  9. Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute (C2CPIIb). Certified products. http://www.c2ccertified.org/products/registry. 01/27/2018
  10. Elkington J (1997) Cannibals with forks – triple bottom line of 21st century business. New Society Publishers, Stoney CreekGoogle Scholar
  11. EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH (EPEA) (2018a) Cradle to Cradle: toolbox for a circular economy. http://www.epea.com/circular-economy/. 01/19/2018
  12. EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH (EPEA) (2018b) Cradle to Cradle: scientific foundation. http://www.epea.com/scientific-foundation/. 01/20/2018
  13. Erdmann K-H, Kastenholz HG (1995) Umwelt- und Naturschutz am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts: Probleme, Aufgaben und Lösungen. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 104–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. European Commission (2009) Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products, OJ L 285, 31.10.2009. pp 10–35Google Scholar
  15. European Commission (2018) Implementation of the circular economy action plan. Brussels. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm. 01/19/2018
  16. Executive Agency for SME. (EASME) (2018) R2Pi – supporting the transition to a circular economy. https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/news/r2-supporting-transition-circular-economy. 01/19/2018
  17. Figge F, Hahn T (2004) Sustainable value added – measuring corporate contributions to sustainability beyond eco-efficiency. Ecol Econ 48(2):173–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Informationsdienst Wissenschaft e.V. (iwd) (2006) Mineralwasser aus PET-Flaschen ist mit Antimon verunreinig. Bayreuth. https://idw-online.de/de/news144181. 01/19/2018
  19. ISO 14025:2011 (ISO 14025). Environmental labels and declarations – type III environmental declarations – principles and proceduresGoogle Scholar
  20. ISO 14044:2006 (ISO 14044). Environmental management – life cycle assessment – requirements and guidelinesGoogle Scholar
  21. McDonough W (2002) Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. North Point Press, New York, p 15Google Scholar
  22. McDonough W, Braungart M (2009) Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. Vintage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) (2016) Cradle to cradle certified product standard version 3.1. pp 107–110 http://s3.amazonaws.com/c2c-website/resources/certification/standard/C2CCertified_ProductStandard_V3.1_160107_final.pdf
  24. Menoni M, Mogravi H (2014) Is eco-efficiency enough for sustainability? Int J Perform Eng 10(4):337–346Google Scholar
  25. Pogutz S, Russo A (2009) Eco-efficiency vs eco-effectiveness: exploring the link between GHG emissions and firm performance. Academy of Management Annual Conference Best Paper Proceeding, Chicago, August 7–12Google Scholar
  26. Schaltegger S, Sturm A (1990) Ökologische Rationalität- Ansatzpunkte zur Ausgestaltung von ökologieorientierten Managementinstrumenten. Die Unternehmung 4:273–290Google Scholar
  27. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2018) Volatile organic compounds’ impact on indoor air quality. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality. 01/18/2018
  28. Welle F (2016) Verpackungsmaterial aus Polyethylenterephthalat (PET). Frankfurt am Main. 2016. http://2015.dlg.org/fileadmin/downloads/food/Expertenwissen/Lebensmitteltechnologie/2016_4_Expertenwissen_PET.pdf. 01/19/2018

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Water, Environment, Civil Engineering and SafetyUniversity of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-StendalMagdeburgGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Madhavi Venkatesan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA