(sometimes abbreviated to C2C, or Cradle 2 Cradle, or in some circles referred to as regenerative) is a biomimetic approach to the design of systems. It models human industry on nature’s processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature’s biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials. Put simply, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially waste free. The model in its broadest sense is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing; it can be applied to many different aspects of human civilization such as urban environments, buildings, economics and social systems.
The term ‘C2C Certification’ is a protected term of the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) consultants. It is a proprietary system of certification. The phrase “Cradle to Cradle” itself was coined by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s, and the current model is based on a system of “lifecycle development” initiated by Michael Braungart and colleagues at the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) in the 1990s and explored through the publication A Technical Framework for Life-Cycle Assessment. In partnership with Braungart, William McDonough released the publication Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things in 2002, which is an effective manifesto for Cradle to Cradle Design that gives specific details of how to achieve the model. The model has been implemented by a number of companies, organisations and governments around the world, predominantly in the U.S., the European Union and China. Cradle to Cradle has also been the subject matter of many documentary films, including the critically acclaimed Waste=Food.