Cradle to Cradle Founder Addresses PVC’s Future

PVC vinyl flooring tile

PVC vinyl flooring tileDr. Michael Braungart, scientific director and founder of the Environmental Protection & Encouragement Agency (EPEA) and co-founder of Cradle to Cradle (C2C) design framework, spoke recently at a seminar during the NeoCon Design Expo and Conference in Chicago.

The conference, which was attended by several leading architecture and design professionals, provided a platform for Dr. Braungart to explain the C2C philosophy supporting the circular economy, as well as the importance of transparency in sharing product information, referencing the sustainable practices of many industry leaders.

Dr. Braungart believes strongly in a process of “striving to be more good and not less bad.” “Cradle to Cradle is about inspiration, celebration of the human footprint,” he said. “It’s not minimizing negative impact, nor optimizing existing bad practices. This is a step-by-step journey, which needs solidarity, transparency and commitment from all stakeholders ­– manufacturers, suppliers, consumers – as well as creativity and innovation to design high-quality and eco-effective products.”

Dr. Braungart demonstrated how the C2C approach could be an “innovation engine” for manufacturers rethinking the choice of raw materials that are safe and good for people and the environment, and for architects, designers or specifiers to select sustainable solutions, thus positively contributing to improved indoor air quality, people’s well being and the environment.

He also addressed the challenge of managing the use of PVC in product manufacturing, as well as the whole PVC industry and its co-products. Referring to Tarkett, a manufacturer of flooring products who sponsored the seminar, and their sustainable commitment to apply C2C principles, he explained how PVC might be a “tolerable material used for durable goods such as pipe, window frame and flooring, when designed with safe materials and with a manageable post-use recycling chain in place.”

He explained that he believes that “this option from a Cradle to Cradle point of view could offer a sustainable solution to the PVC industry’s challenges for a transition period of time, until a more eco-effective and sustainable alternative can be widely available on the market.”

“Sharing the knowledge and unparalleled experience of Dr. Braungart with architects and designers is an important part of our efforts to encourage the use of sustainable materials in the design process and improve performance standards throughout the industry,” said Diane Martel, Vice President of Environmental Planning and Strategy for Tarkett North America.

GBE recently featured an infographic showcasing Cradle to Cradle certification and its positive effects for product manufacturers and profitability.

Source: PR Newswire

Photo: Steve Snodgrass through a Creative Commons License