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Cradle to Cradle®

Being a Cradle to Cradle® Company means going beyond what most people conceive of as sustainability.

By 2020 all our materials will have to be free of toxins that could cause harm (though allowed by all regulations certain chemical components are not healthy enough to be passed as Cradle to Cradle®), energy used will be renewable and the specially designed goods will be capable of being taken back and the materials used to make new high grade products, ending the need to continually draw on the earth's resources to meet growing consumer demand across the world.

In short, the vision allows for companies and people to prosper while taking cognizance of the planet's delicate ecosystem and finite resource. It deals head-on with three global challenges we face: toxicity in materials; climate change; and resource scarcity. It is also about making sure everything we do has a positive impact on human health. The five criteria that Desso and other Cradle to Cradle® companies must adhere to are:

Desso Material health

1) Material Health - ensuring all of the chemical ingredients in products are defined as positive (either optimal/green or tolerable/yellow). These are judged against a set of environmental and human health criteria and any ingredients that are classified as red (high risk) or grey (unable to define) should be phased out and replaced.

Desso has achieved this with its new DESSO EcoBase® backing, which contains a polyolefin based layer that is 100% safely recyclable in Desso's production process. Carpet tiles with DESSO EcoBase® achieved a Cradle to Cradle® Silver Certificate for having reached a level where up to 97% of the materials are positively defined1) (Green or Yellow).

Material Reutilization

2) Material Reutlization- you must be able to identify the material streams that can be reutilized when the product is taken back after it has been used by the consumer or customer. These are fed back as nutrients either into the manufacturing process (technical sphere) or into the earth (biosphere).

At the heart of the Cradle to Cradle® philosophy is the idea that 'waste equals food'. So, in the case of carpets, Desso has developed the technology to take back carpets and recycle or reuse the materials.

Today, we take back used carpets from our customers and our competitors and separate the yarn and other fibres from the backing, thereby producing two main material streams which can be recycled. After an additional purification stage, the yarn (with the required purity) is returned to the yarn manufacturer for the production of new yarn. In the entire process, some virgin material is needed to compensate for losses and process inefficiency. Today's bitumen backing is recycled as a valuable raw material for the road and roofing industry. All non-recyclable fractions will be used as secondary fuel in the cement industry.

For Polyamide 6 yarn, this process takes place at Aquafil; one of our yarn suppliers. Aquafil has developed proprietary technology at its regeneration plant to turn recovered post-consumer polyamide 6 carpet fibres into new polyamide 6 again and again.

Desso Renewable energy

3) Renewable Energy Use - One of Cradle to Cradle®'s three core principles (the other two being Waste equals Food; and encouraging diversity as in nature) is to use current solar income, meaning that energy use should be, as far as possible, renewable. In this way, Cradle to Cradle® companies like Desso can be assured that the bulk of what they do and what they produce is positive for the environment and for human health.

During the period 2007-2011, Desso reduced its CO2 emissions by 50% owing to its increased use of green electricity (mostly hydropower and biomass). Besides Desso's roof is currently covered by 25,000 m2 solar cells. It aims to switch over completely to renewable energy by 2020.

Desso Water Stewardship

4) Water Stewardship - Companies following this route must demonstrate they are using their water resources responsibly and efficiently and that the water discharge from factories into local rivers is as clean as possible.

Desso social responsibility

5) Social Responsibility - Companies must demonstrate they live up to the highest principles of responsibility in regard to their staff, and endeavor to make sure that companies in their supply chain are not violating these principles. Desso is committed to adhering to the SA8000 standard, set by the non-governmental organization Social Accountability International (SAI). It is one of the world's first auditable social certification standards covering policies and procedures that protect the basic human rights of workers.

1) Positively defined = all ingredients have been assessed as either Green (optimal) or Yellow (tolerable) according to the Cradle to Cradle® assessment criteria. As described in the Cradle to Cradle® Certification Program Version 2.1.1, prepared by MBDC September 2008, updated January 2011.

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