Be­yond re­cy­cling

Cra­dle to Cra­dle

Element - - Environment -

It takes en­ergy and re­sources to re­cy­cle things. They are of­ten trans­formed into lower value com­modi­ties, or even­tu­ally end up in land­fill any­way. And many cur­rent com­plex elec­tronic or me­chan­i­cal prod­ucts are too costly or dif­fi­cult to re­cy­cle at all. Chemist Michael Braun­gart and ar­chi­tect Wil­liam Mc­donough re-imag­ined re­cy­cling in their rev­o­lu­tion­ary book: Cra­dle to Cra­dle: Re­mak­ing the Way We Make Things. The idea is that ev­ery prod­uct should be con­structed in such a way that ‘bi­o­log­i­cal’ ma­te­ri­als that can be safely com­posted can be eas­ily sep­a­rated from each of the in­di­vid­ual types of ‘tech­ni­cal’ or syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als like me­tals and plas­tics. The bi­o­log­i­cal ma­te­ri­als can then be eas­ily and safely dis­posed of, while the tech­ni­cal ma­te­ri­als are all re­claimed back into the pro­duc­tion cy­cle. Much of the Her­man Miller range (right) of fur­ni­ture stocked by has been cer­ti­fied us­ing this ap­proach, and more and more com­pa­nies are jump­ing on board to cre­ate more pos­i­tive prod­ucts.

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