The Cradle to Cradle certification program is one of the world’s most respected guides to ethical and sustainable practices in manufacturing and product distribution.
It’s a program with which Shaw Contract has been long aligned.
While the world undergoes what looks like being the biggest test of its resilience in 80 years and the future at this stage is far from certain, what we can be sure of is that, however it recovers, there is going to be a much greater focus on preservation, conservation and looking after ourselves and the planet we call home.
Before the virus hit, there were already measures in place that had well-being and sustainability as their central modus operandi. And it is to these practices and systems that we will be turning in the years of recovery ahead.
One of the best known and most highly regarded is Cradle to Cradle certification – the program prompted by Michael Braungart and William McDonough’s groundbreaking book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, published in 2002.
The certified products program is now conducted by an independent non-profit organisation called the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Products that meet key criteria stipulated by the Institute are certified in five critical sustainability categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness. And each product is assigned an achievement level from Basic through to Platinum for each category.
Shaw Contract is a company that understands the absolute necessity of always attempting to set the bar higher, and striving to outdo itself in its endeavours to optimise products and promote sustainability. It is no surprise, therefore, that almost 90 percent of the products it manufactures are Cradle to Cradle certified in its bid to follow closely the principles of a circular economy and to build economic, natural and social capital.
On the scale of the individual categories, it ensures that each is considered and addressed, with significant results.
Cradle to cradle categories
Material health – this category aims to ensure products are made using the safest possible chemicals for both humans and the environment. Accordingly, Shaw Contract developed the industry’s very first 100 percent PVC (polyvinyl chloride)-free carpet tile backing in 1999. EcoWorx is the strongest and most durable tile backing with five times the tensile strength of traditional PVC-backed options.
Material reuse – the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products program requires the use of safe recycled content and the promotion of products intentionally designed for circularity. Shaw Contract’s EcoWorx backed products have an environmental guarantee of free reclamation and recycling at their end of life. In just the last 14 years over 450 million kilograms of post-consumer carpet from both Shaw and other manufacturers has been reclaimed and recycled by Shaw.
Renewable energy and carbon management – this category means that greenhouse gases must be reduced or, even better, eliminated in the manufacture of the product certified. Optimisation of energy usage and an increasing percentage of renewable energy are the keys to continual improvement in this area. Shaw’s global commercial carpet manufacturing facilities are 100 percent carbon neutral and the manufacturer is a signatory of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment – aiming to eliminate a collective 244 metric tons of carbon emissions equivalent (CO2e) from their buildings each year.
Water stewardship – this category recognises the precious nature of water, and requires participants display responsible and effective management of it as a resource. Shaw maintains responsibility for water withdrawals, consumption and releases within local ecosystems. To help combat water scarcity, it also focuses on identifying new technology and innovative solutions to reduce water use. The company has reduced its water use by 30 percent since 2006, and its goal is to reduce its water impact 50 percent by 2030.
Social fairness – for the final Cradle to Cradle category an organisation needs to demonstrate its commitment to ethical practice. Equity and fairness for both Shaw’s operations and its global supply chain are core objectives, and the company follows through on these with such initiatives as charitable donations, scholarship funding, design summit support and immersive research projects to improve health and economic outcomes. Shaw also works to ensure its suppliers align with its high standards across the board, with sustainability, fair wages and social equity mandatory requirements.
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