When everything is going in circles
Sustainability is more than a trend for Technoform. It is an attitude: Acting on behalf of coming generations. Focusing on people. Developing intelligent innovations. These are the three central principles of the corporate culture. This led to dealing with the visionary design concept Cradle to Cradle ® (C2C) at an early stage. That is because C2C not only depicts these values. Cradle to Cradle® makes them quantifiable, traceable and alive.
“We noticed right away that the concept was for us! Socially, ecologically, economically – these aspects of sustainability are all contained in our DNA as a family business!”*
Igor Cemalovic, Product Manager
As one of only 84 products worldwide, the insulating profiles made of polyamide and low-lambda polyamide were awarded the Cradle to Cradle® Gold certificate for environmentally intelligent design by the Cradle to Cradle® Products Innovation Institute in San Francisco. Technoform is thus a pioneer in the area of this product certification.
Cradle to Cradle® – The design concept
The vision of Cradle to Cradle® almost sounds childish, but it is a great challenge for every manufacturing company. C2C wants to implement perfect cycles following the example of nature. Trash as nutrition. The product as a resource. The person as beneficial.
And at every ending, there is a new beginning
Cradle to Cradle® – from the cradle to the cradle – is based on the principle of thinking about the end of a product. Even in development, it must be guaranteed that the end of the product lifecycle is not the same as the end of the resources used in it.
“The ambition to think past the lifecycle of a product involves completely different challenges in the development process. Suddenly, it is not only about fulfilling product specifications.
Besides that, it requires new development partnerships. Cradle to Cradle® is networking. To rely on a knowledge monopoly makes no sense in this concept.”
Technoform - Advocate of the circular economy
Cradle to Cradle ® distinguishes between two closed cycles. In the biological circulation, materials used for production are composted and therefore functions as “nutrients” once again. The technical cycle provides for the production of unmixed, separable materials that can be used later again as secondary raw materials. Resources always circulate in the same cycle.
This is exactly where the greatest challenge was for Technoform. In order to receive certification, a strategy concept had to be developed for the future post-consumer recycling.
“We made the commitment that when aluminum and plastic are separated, we take the plastic part, sort it according to type and up-cycle it. The goal is to process 100% of our new products out of this post-consumer plastic at some point.”
A lot of development work still needs to be done until this goal is reached. But, the first steps have been taken.
“Previously, it was thought of as impossible to recycle the polyamide plastic used specifically in aluminum windows.
We have already shown that this is feasible. Now, we are working with our partners, for example, A|U|F to implement this concept. At the moment, it is not yet possible with our standard of quality.” Igor Cemalovic
The claim: Completeness
Cradle to Cradle® is not limited to purely environmental aspects.
It also includes the economic and social aspects. Companies that want to obtain the desired certificate must scrutinize their entire value-added chain.
“You have to really prove willingness for transparency. Because a lot of information is requested that is not usually revealed.”
C2C – Part of the Technoform sustainability strategy
Pierre, Schlosser, Marketing Manager at Technoform, was there from the beginning. When the first customers asked about a C2C certified insulation profile, he was already an interested student of that school of thought.
“C2C just means being consistent for us. A third of the energy is used around the world in order to air-condition buildings. This harbors unique opportunities to save resources. The product developers of Technoform are at work every day to increase this potential.”
Compared to conventional products, our optimized systems can save 85% of the energy required for cooling or heating and thus reduce the CO2 emissions to great extent.
Realizing sustainability in the ecological sense is therefore our core competence, in a manner of speaking.”
Cradle to Cradle® is therefore also not just a facet of Technoform’s sustainability commitment. Other sustainability concepts like “design thinking” are factored into the development processes and contribute to reflecting conventional procedures.
“Our industry is driven by the topic of energy efficiency, or alternatively energy effectiveness. A completely different, current field is gray energy. What is meant is the indirect energy demand, i.e. the sum of the amounts of energy that have to be consumed for the manufacture, transport, storage, sales and disposal, including the energy needed for the production of the components. This approach also opens up a very important, new view of production and a great deal of potential for the conservation of resources.” Pierre Schlosser
The economy, a perfect circle – Utopia or vision?
Cradle to Cradle® is more than a do-gooders utopia. More and more people, scientists, entrepreneurs and politicians understand that the most sustainable economy is the most intelligent economy. Only circular approaches can effectively solve problems such as shortages of raw materials and explosions of trash:
In Denmark, the 30 largest companies, among them Lego, have affirmed the C2C principle. With the goal of creating more quality of life, boosting the economy and retaining talented pioneers in the region, the Dutch city of Venlo has developed into a Cradle-to-Cradle-Valley. In construction bid invitations, for example, bidders that take C2C criteria into consideration are preferred.
This focus is very effective from an ecological point of view, if you consider that the construction sector consumes one-third of all resources worldwide, according to statements by the United Nations Environmental Program (Unep). They therefore promote the change of thought to the intelligent circular economy.
Technoform has just completed the recertification of its window profile. Perhaps we will manufacture exclusively according to Cradle to Cradle® in the medium term. That is my aspiration,” says Igor Cemalovic confidently.
If everything is going in circles, Technoform is not standing still. We are forging ahead and leading the circle with ambition, expertise and passion – until the circle is closed.
The following criteria are checked for the certification:
Material safety: The contents are tested for materials dangerous to health.
Recyclability: The contents are checked in order to exclude that a product contains inseparable chemical compounds.
Renewable energies: Central criteria are the use of energy from renewable sources as well as the minimization of CO2 emissions during production.
Water management: Companies must present a sustainable concept, from consumption during production up to use of the wastewater.
Social fairness: Certified companies must ensure that child or forced labor are excluded, and that equal opportunity and fair wages are guaranteed. Likewise, the corporate culture and action guidelines are also reviewed. The UN Global Compact is considered to be the standard.