Ken Alston, Executive Advisory Board of Advanced Sustainable Systems on Cradle to Cradle Design

by | Feb 9, 2017

The editors of Advanced Sustainable Systems asked Ken Alston to briefly describe the idea behind Cradle to Cradle.

CEO & President of Consulting & Education Services for MBDC – Ken Alston.

As CEO & President of Consulting & Education Services for MBDC, Ken Alston’s passion is working with executives, designers and innovators to remake the way we make things. He is exceptionally skilled at presenting the business, social and environmental benefits of Sustainability, Cradle to Cradle® design and the Circular Economy. Drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience of managing corporate programs, Ken has the authoritative voice demanded internationally by businesses and governments alike.

We, the Editors of Advanced Sustainable Systems, asked Ken to briefly describe the cradle to cradle idea.

What is Cradle to Cradle® Design?

Ken Alston: Cradle to Cradle design is a framework and set of design principles that are needed for a sustainable circular economy. Cradle to Cradle design eliminates the concept of waste. All materials are intentionally designed to be safely reused (in a technical cycle) without loss of quality, or to be returned to the soil safely (in a biological cycle).

This framework promotes constant improvement by design, intentionally moving from simply being “less bad” to becoming “more good”, directing innovation and leadership towards regeneration and celebrating a beneficial or positive footprint.


Cradle to Cradle was co-developed by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart. They published “The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability“ in 1992 and in 2002 “Cradle to Cradle®: Remaking the Way We Make Things”. In 2013 they published “The Upcycle”. They also co-created a product assessment and certification program: the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Cradle to Cradle® designs integrate clean water, clean energy and social fairness considerations, in addition to the core elements of material health (transparency) and material reutilization (circular economy):

  • Material Health: Value materials as nutrients for safe, continuous cycling
  • Material Reutilization: Maintains continuous flows of biological and technical nutrients
  • Renewable Energy: Powers all operations with 100% renewable energy
  • Water Stewardship: Regards water as a precious resource
  • Social Fairness: Celebrates the diversity of people and natural systems

Please submit your paper on Cradle to Cradle or Circular Economy relevant research to this exciting new journal. Any articles on the use cycles of products, Cradle to Cradle inspired design – analyses/perspectives, eco-efficiency and eco-effectiveness and other related topics are welcome.

Cradle to Cradle® is a Trademark of MBDC, LLC.

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