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Published April 7, 2021
Published April 7, 2021
Jon Tyson via Unsplash

Our actions matter, and consumers expect brands to do their part. How companies design and make products today has a direct impact on the world we will inhabit tomorrow. The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard has provided guidelines to help brands, designers, and manufacturers optimize products for immediate and long-term positive impacts for over a decade. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has released version 4.0, the most ambitious and actionable standard to date for safe, circular, responsibly made products.

“Cradle to Cradle Certified has long been regarded as the most trusted and advanced science-based standard for designing and manufacturing products that maximize health and wellbeing for people and our planet,” said Peter Templeton, Institute President and CEO. “The fourth version of Cradle to Cradle Certified builds on this legacy by equipping brands, retailers, designers and manufacturers with actionable guidance and best practices for choosing safer materials, driving meaningful innovation, and creating products, systems and business models that have a positive impact on humans and the environment today, and in the future.”

Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 4.0 meets businesses of all sizes where they are with a comprehensive single-standard solution for advancing from commitment to action by addressing interconnected sustainability topics, and developing safe and circular products. The standard enables brands, manufacturers, retailers, and product designers to:

  1. Prioritize action across five sustainability focus areas that include: Material Health: Ensuring materials are safe for humans and the environment Product Circularity: Enabling a circular economy through regenerative products and process design Clean Air & Climate Protection: Protecting clean air, promoting renewable energy, and reducing harmful emissions Water & Soil Stewardship: Safeguarding clean water and healthy soils Social Fairness: Respecting human rights and contributing to a fair and equitable society

  2. Enact change, from product innovation to operations.

  3. Transform business models, systems, and collaboration throughout the value chain.

  4. Verify performance and measure progress towards sustainability commitments.

  5. Lead industry transformation towards a safe, circular, and equitable future.

“The fourth version of Cradle to Cradle Certified reflects significant advancements in our knowledge and understanding of what it takes to make products with a positive impact,” said Dr. Susan Klosterhaus, Institute Vice President of Science and Certification, whose team led development of the new standard. “The result is an ambitious set of actionable requirements for guiding companies to make safer materials choices, create intentionally circular products and processes, and do so in a fair and equitable way—ultimately pushing beyond compliance with regulation to innovation and leadership.”

Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 4.0 features new and enhanced requirements in all performance categories, including:

  • New frameworks for Product Circularity and Social Fairness that define global best practices.
  • More rigorous requirements in Clean Air & Climate Protection that promote urgent action to address climate change.
  • Expanded requirements in Water & Soil Stewardship to ensure clean water and healthy soils are available to people and all other organisms.
  • Improved alignment of Material Health requirements with leading chemical regulations and other standards, including a new Restricted Substances List.

Companies in every sector face growing pressure from investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders to demonstrate environmental, social, and governance performance and to communicate progress incredible and transparent ways, according to Dr. Christina Raab, Vice President of Strategy and Development for the Institute.

“Cradle to Cradle Certified Version 4.0 offers businesses of all sizes an ambitious solution for advancing from commitment to action by addressing interconnected sustainability topics, and developing safe and circular products,” stated Dr. Raab. “By benchmarking performance against the standard’s ascending levels of achievement, companies can set strategy, measure progress, and clearly communicate their impact and leadership to their stakeholders.”


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