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The sustainable dictionary

Certain terms are common in the world of sustainability and circularity. However, what is actually meant and what is the context?

Cradle to Cradle (C2C)

C2C stands for Cradle to Cradle. This means that all products and processes are a resource for something new. It goes beyond recycling, and you leave the world slightly better off than when you found it. 

The main essence of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy is that, after the normal period of use, all materials used in one product can be reused in another product. Without loss of quality. For example, the aluminium legs on the Auping Essential bed can be infinitely recycled, and turned into a new leg. Quality is maintained completely. This means that product design must already consider the time when the item will be dismantled. Materials must therefore be easy to separate.

The C2C philosophy is founded on 3 basic principles:

  1. Waste is a resource
  2. Use solar energy
  3. Encourage biodiversity

In specific terms this means avoiding use of harmful raw materials, leaving materials in a cycle (closed cycle), avoiding over-consumption, using local opportunities, using sustainable energy, energising people and selling the use of the product rather than its possession.

EPEA Netherlands is working to develop Cradle to Cradle solutions with companies, authorities and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations). EPEA also supervises the requests for Cradle to Cradle certification. When a product is certified Cradle to Cradle, you can be assured that the quality of choice of materials, reuse, and the impact on people, the planet and the production process is guaranteed. There are five levels of product certification (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) with a view to continue encouraging the certificate holder to reach higher levels (Source: EPEA.nl).

DSM-Niaga

The collaboration between DSM-Niaga was established in 2014 between the newly-founded company Niaga and DSM. Royal DSM is a global scientific company, operating in health, nutrition and materials. By combining its unique competencies in Life Sciences and Materials Sciences, DSM encourages economic prosperity, environmental developments and social progress in order to create additional sustainable value for all stakeholders.

Niaga has set itself the target of redesigning everyday products from scratch. The goal is to make product entirely recyclable in an easy and affordable manner, without compromising quality or price. The first product to be redesigned by Niaga was carpet, to be followed by many others.


Footprint

A footprint in sustainability terms is about the extent to which there are consequences for the planet. The word is used because a footprint shows where people have been. Similarly, a sustainable footprint stands for the impact of an organisation on other people, nature, future generations and the world. The smaller the footprint, the better.
 

Certificates for responsible forest management

This covers an annual surface area of 16 million hectares, equivalent to 4 times the size of the Netherlands. Every year, deforestation causes 15% of global CO2 emissions and therefore plays a major role in climate change. Furthermore, 80% of all the world’s animals depend on the forest, along with millions of people who live or work in the forest (Source: FSC) Even so, there is no international law relating to responsible forestry. That’s why there are various systems in the world to ensure sustainability. The two most important ones are FSC and PEFC. They both have the same objective, but apply different methods.
 

FSC- certified

FSC is an international organisation and stands for Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC system targets responsible forest management worldwide. This means that there is a balanced consideration of ecological, social and economic aspects related to forest management. Examples include

  • giving the forest time to recover after the wood harvest;
  • no harvesting in forests of great natural and cultural value;
  • respecting and establishing the rights of indigenous people;
  • proper treatment of forest workers (working hours, wage, safety, training);
  • providing employment opportunities and strengthening the local economy.
     

PEFC- certified

PEFC stands for Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and has the same ambitions as FSC. The differences between these labels concern the decision-making on which the certification is based. In this way, FSC sets its own standards, whereby the forest owner wishing to be certified must demonstrate his compliance (top-down). PEFC begins by aligning with existing rules and legislation, adding further criteria and standards for sustainable forest management (bottom-up). Naturally the standard must satisfy the PEFC scale.
What is most important is that both labels focus on responsible forest management and ensuring that the area of certified forest in the world is increased. After all, there is a whole world of work to be done.