Cradle to cradle to ... what exactly?

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations

At the Management International Conference in Portorož, I listened to a confident presentation about cradle to cradle ideas by Albin Kälin, CEO of EPEA Switzerland.  I suppose I should say Cradle to Cradle® as this phrase has been registered.  Anyway.

EPEA Switzerland says that it

implements with an experienced management team Cradle to Cradle® projects in all industries in Switzerland, Austria and the textile industry worldwide ... .

In terms of efficient husbanding and use of increasingly scarce and expensive resources, and the shift to more of a design philosophy that it entails, all this seems self-evidently a good idea, and something to welcome, as is the positive focus on the quality and integrity of both processes and materials.  But I think there may be an elephant in this cradle, if I can mince my metaphors.  It's captured in this question which I asked Kälin:

Whilst I can see the sense of this approach to resources and to product design, it seems that one might argue that the two most obvious outcomes will be [1] sustained (in the enduring sense) corporate profits, and [2] rich consumers with an eased conscience.  It is less obvious that this will be of any help to the world's poorest billions.  I wonder how you respond to this.

His answer was not convincing — in fact, it wasn't an answer to the question at all.  Had the question been asked by an EPEA insider, it would have seems almost blasphemous, I suppose, whereas because it came from me, an outsider, it was merely an attempted critical opening to conversation.

There does need to be a convincing answer, though, as the question will get asked by people much less sympathetic to the idea, and much more anti-capitalist, than I am.

Posted in: Comment, Talks and Presentations


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