Monday, January 28, 2013

Cradle to Cradle: Closing the Loop

The very revolutionary concept of cradle to cradle is the base for the world of sustainable design and manufacturing. Essentially it is a new model which emphasizes on recycling of waste to generate more resources. Cradle to cradle models industrial resources to biological nutrients and explains a continuous transformation this nutrient. Cradle design is about creating continuous cycles of both biological and technical nutrient which means products are made from pure components that can be easily dissembled and used to create new products.

The cradle to cradle concept was invented in 1970’s. However, Chemist Michael Braungart and architect and designer William McDonough who in 2002 released book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” creating perfect manifesto of cradle to cradle system. The linear system, where are produced, used and remained as waste forever, disturbs nature to a great extent. Why not use nature itself as a model? If one observes trees, they blossoms, carry fruits and are environment friendly. This concept has unveiled the best principle of nature “waste is food”. Nature’s model can also be explained with this simple equation Re(duce+use+cycle) 

Does this simple concept really that simple to implement is current scenario?

Here are few things which matter while incorporating cradle to cradle design which are not limited to design challenges, changing behavior of people, government policies and budget. At first it may be difficult to cast existing process model to cradle to cradle model. But many case studies proved cradle to cradle can help industry to derive brand new resources from waste.

"Reduce, reuse, recycle," urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. They ask why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world? In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are). Elaborating their principles from experience redesigning everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.

Cradle to cradle lifecycle is indeed promising in this world of limited resources.



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