Saturday, August 11, 2007

Herman Miller's Cradle to Cradle approach to sustainable product design

Metropolis Magazine shares the transcript of a talk given by Scott Charon and Susan Lyons on Herman Miller's sustainable design program based on the Cradle to Cradle protocol. Here's a snippet,
If you look at a disassembled Aeron chair at the end of its useful life you can see there are a lot of different components that make up the furniture. When we did the breakdown we were told we really need to be better at disassembly. It took a couple of hours to disassemble the chair, and we need to make sure we can get those materials into proper recycling bins.
There are four questions we ask. First, are the materials homogenous? Meaning they can't be molded steel and plastic together. Did we use common tools to take them apart? Did it take one person more than 30 seconds to reverse a connection? If it takes longer than that the material might end up in a landfill. The materials have to be identified and marked; the plastics have to have the proper recycling codes on them so they can be recycled. If the answer to all of those questions is yes we are going to give ourselves 100 percent credit, if one of those is No, we are not going to give ourselves any credit. Finally, recycling. If a material fits into the technical or biological nutrient cycle we will score that 100 percent, if it's down-cycled we will give that 50 percent and if we can incinerate it for energy recovery we will give that 25 percent. If it has to go to a landfill we are not going to give ourselves any credit within that score card.

Posted by: Niti Bhan

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