By 2020 all our materials will have to be free
of toxins that could cause harm (though allowed by all regulations
certain chemical components are not healthy enough to be passed
Cradle to Cradle®), energy used
will be renewable and the specially designed goods will be capable
of being taken back and the materials used to make new high grade
products, ending the need to continually draw on the earth's
resources to meet growing consumer demand across the world.
In short, the vision allows for companies and people to prosper while taking cognizance of the planet's delicate ecosystem and finite resource. It deals head-on with three global challenges we face: toxicity in materials; climate change; and resource scarcity. It is also about making sure everything we do has a positive impact on human health. The five criteria that Desso and other Cradle to Cradle® companies must adhere to are:
1) Material Health - ensuring all of the chemical ingredients in products are defined as positive (either optimal/green or tolerable/yellow). These are judged against a set of environmental and human health criteria and any ingredients that are classified as red (high risk) or grey (unable to define) should be phased out and replaced.
Desso has achieved this with its new DESSO EcoBase® backing, which contains a polyolefin based layer that is 100% safely recyclable in Desso's production process. Carpet tiles with DESSO EcoBase® achieved a Cradle to Cradle® Silver Certificate for having reached a level where up to 97% of the materials are positively defined1 (Green or Yellow).
Reutlization - you must be able to identify the material
streams that can be reutilized when the product is taken back after
it has been used by the consumer or customer. These are fed back as
nutrients either into the manufacturing process (technical sphere)
or into the earth (biosphere).
Today, we take back used carpets through our Take Back™ programme and separate the yarn and other fibres from the backing, thereby producing two main material streams which can be recycled.
After an additional purification stage, the yarn (with the required purity) is returned to the yarn manufacturer for the production of new yarn. In the entire process, some virgin material is needed to compensate for losses and process inefficiency. Today's bitumen backing is recycled as a valuable raw material for the road and roofing industry. All non-recyclable fractions will be used as secondary fuel in the cement industry.
For Polyamide 6 yarn, this process takes place at Aquafil; one of our yarn suppliers. Aquafil has developed proprietary technology at its regeneration plant to turn recovered post-consumer polyamide 6 carpet fibres into new polyamide 6 again and again (ECONYL® 100% regenerated nylon yarn).
3) Renewable Energy
Use - One of Cradle to Cradle®'s three core principles
(the other two being Waste equals Food; and encouraging diversity
as in nature) is to use current solar income, meaning that energy
use should be, as far as possible, renewable. In this way, Cradle
to Cradle® companies like Desso can be assured that the bulk of
what they do and what they produce is positive for the environment
and for human health.
During the period 2007-2011, Desso reduced its CO2 emissions by 50% owing to its increased use of green electricity (mostly hydropower and biomass). Besides Desso's roof is currently covered by 25,000 m2 solar cells. It aims to switch over completely to renewable energy by 2020.
4) Water Stewardship - Companies following this route must demonstrate they are using their water resources responsibly and efficiently and that the water discharge from factories into local rivers is as clean as possible.
5) Social Responsibility - We adhere to the Global Sullivan Principles, with its commitment to human rights and fair labour practices. Social Fairness is one of the five elements of the Cradle to Cradle® philosophy we have been following since 2008. It covers all areas from ensuring high health and safety standards in our offices and production facilities to trying to ensure that no one in our supply chain around the world has any connection with the use of child labour or enforced labour.