MBDC Chemist Reflects on Transparency Trend

By: Jacob Melone

When it comes to products’ chemical make-up, transparency has never been the norm. Manufacturers have often gone to extreme measures to protect their intellectual property and trade secrets. Despite this competitive atmosphere, MBDC, creators and foremost implementers of the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, have built cooperative relationships with manufacturers and their suppliers over the last 25 years. These relationships lead to a willingness to share with us the information needed to assess products on customers’ behalf and guide optimization. Without these strong relationships, C2C Certified would not be able to be the world’s most advanced, science-based standard for designing and making products for the Circular Economy. 

Between my first time attending GreenBuild about 4 years ago and GreenBuild 2019 in Atlanta, the conversation has shifted dramatically toward the subject of transparency. President Obama served as the most recent keynote speaker, and while he may not be a material chemist, he certainly has plenty of experience as an effective leader. The key word is “effective,” and he was able to bring to light many characteristics that enable one to be more effective. Similarly, Cradle to Cradle, as a design framework and certification, encourages companies to go beyond typical eco-efficient approaches of doing things the right way, toward being eco-effective and doing the right thing. Transparency in terms of sharing ingredients can be thought of as efficient, while Cradle to Cradle Certification communicating the actual health and sustainability of products is effective. 

For example, listing the exact chemicals to 100 parts per million (ppm) has little value for the average customer. People frequently choose materials and products based on a specific use and potential for re-use, using communication from producers to understand the contents. This is where third-party assessors such as MBDC come in. Assessors are the crucial bridge between ingredient data and safe, circular choices, helping customers and manufactures have all the relevant information they need for specific materials. By assessing each homogeneous material to 100ppm we ensure that customers understand that all relevant hazards and risks of the product have been taken into consideration for the use cycle of the product while protecting the valuable information manufacturers have investing in developing.

MBDC and other third-party assessors work for the public good. We work for the consumer, advocating for healthy products and beneficial change throughout the supply chain and are therefore in the optimal position to take on the transparency discussion. When it comes to discussing transparency, material assessors rather than manufacturers are the ideal advocates. 

Interested in learning more about Cradle to Cradle Certified™ as transparency? Contact us!