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Advancing Sustainability Through Innovation

luther, bridgett, cradle to cradle innovation instituteA recent Ceres report analyzed 613 of the largest publicly traded corporations in the United States to reveal that while a growing contingent of companies are steadily building sustainability into their business operations, the vast majority are not. As detailed in the report, hundreds of companies are taking steps to reduce their green house gas emissions, but most have not set clear time line goals for these programs. Ceres’ corporate program vice president Andrea Moffat summarized the report by saying, “We’re seeing a change, but not fast enough and not to the extent that we think is really possible for US companies. We are not seeing the scale of change that we really need.”

The intention and action is there, but many corporations still struggle to advance the sustainability of their products and production methods. Many companies who make sustainability a priority have turned to eco-labels to provide third-party accreditation to validate their sustainability efforts. Yet, nearly all eco-labels focus solely on identifying performance within a specific product or service category and therefore cannot offer a holistic sustainability platform or incentive for continual improvement. Other problems with traditional eco-labels can lead consumers to question the true meaning of the label, for example when the certification is self-identifying.

Corporations need a neutral third party who can both provide a path forward for sustainable innovation, as well as ensure they are continuing to make substantial progress and improve their impact on the world. The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products program provides companies with a verified continuous improvement sustainability platform that addresses the five most crucial aspects of corporate sustainability: water use, energy consumption, material health, material reutilization and social fairness.

The program helps corporations choose safer alternatives for ingredients in their products and set clear goals and deadlines for the improvement of the five core areas moving forward.

To get on the path toward making safer products with the Cradle to Cradle Certified program:

1. Determine if your product is appropriate for certification.

–Does it comply with the banned chemicals lists?

–Is there a commitment to continuous improvement and product optimization?

2. Select an Accredited Assessment body for testing, analysis and evaluation of your product.

3. Compile initial application forms.

4. Work with you assessor to compile and evaluate data and documentation.

–Collect information on your supply chain.

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