The identification of suitable materials for products and processes is a fundamental step in the development of a Cradle to Cradle® product. One first step is finding and defining the constituent materials used in the manufacture of a product, This then forms the beginning of a product redesign or a development of a new product concept. Using an ABC-categorization, all constituent materials are then evaluated. The process of evaluation according to Cradle to Cradle® is based on the following steps:
- Collation and identification of products and their constituent materials
- Research, using databanks and scientific literature, into the individual component parts as regards their ecological and toxicological data. This research then forms the basis of an evaluation of any dangers they present
- Consideration of certain specified scenarios and an estimation of the resultant overall risk
- Drawing up of a overall recommendation for the safe handling of the product or substance in question
A recommendation is then made on the basis of a classification whereby, A= optimal B= could be better C=tolerable and X=intolerable.
Whilst conventional environmental standards are based on cutting out or reducing the use of certain materials, the Cradle to Cradle® concept attempts another approach using “Preference Lists”. (P Lists). These lists contain those materials that, on account on their excellent properties, offer no cause for concern as regards human health or the environment. Rather than listing products that should be excluded, P Lists, as the name suggests, contain the best known materials suited to a particular usage such as dying textiles or stabilizing plastic.