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Circular Economy in Practice – Schneider Receives Cradle to Cradle Certification

Contributed by: 
Gaurav Sharma, Lead of Circularity Consulting Practice, Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric has achieved the next level of recognition with the international Cradle to Cradle certification in silver for switches and sockets of the "System M" and "System Design", both examples from a range of switches, socket-outlets, and boxes for living spaces, produced in Germany for Schneider’s premium home brand ‘Merten’. Learn more about the concept of Cradle to Cradle, this accomplishment from the German press release, and get some advice from our circularity expert, Gaurav Sharma, on how these ideas can be adopted by peer companies.

The Cradle to Cradle principle

The Cradle to Cradle (C2C) concept aims to replace the linear economy with continuous circular economy practices. Still today, most of the global economy continues to follow a deep-rooted linear mindset, where businesses and individuals take materials from the earth, make them into products that often have short lifespans, then dispose of the materials used to create the products by sending them to a landfill. Instead of the traditional system, C2C is based on a complete recycling or technical reusability of all products and materials. At the end of the product life cycle, storage in a landfill is replaced by the return of raw materials to the value chain to continuously circulate all materials without loss or waste.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified​®​ Product Standard is an internationally recognized, ambitious, and actionable guidance for designing and making products following the C2C principle. The respective Cradle to Cradle certificate is divided into five different levels: Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. During the certification process, a product is assessed in five different categories: safety of materials, recycling, renewable energy and management of CO2 emissions, water policy, and social responsibility.

Our recent recognition

Schneider Electric is the first company in the electrical industry that offers a part of its product line with Cradle-to-Cradle certification. After products from the same series received a bronze certificate in 2020, reaching the next level now with silver certification acknowledges the results of further development and consistent efforts in terms of responsible product design according to the principles of the circular economy. It’s worth noting that for the subcategories “circularity” as well as “renewable energies and climate” the current certifications have already achieved thresholds for gold status.

At Schneider Electric, sustainability has always been deeply anchored in vision and corporate goals. For example, through our efforts relating to the circular economy, we have achieved 77% of all products sold in 2020 bearing our "Green Premium" environmental label. All Green Premium products are REACH and RoHS compliant and provide transparent access to environmental information such as environmental compatibility, CO2 footprint, and end-of-life information.

The international C2C certification now also independently confirms the high product quality of the switches and sockets of the Merten brand.

Applying C2C and circular principles at your company

Prioritizing principles of the circular economy into business not only leads to increased efficiencies and reduced carbon emissions but also can result in more competitive products and in some cases, cost savings. There are several tangible steps that any organization can take to begin down the path toward circular business.

Read my recent blog to get 6 tips on how to design a circular economy playbook for your business.

Discover more about circular economy at Schneider Electric and how we enable our clients to unleash their opportunities here.