In the wood industry, the rising sustainability demands pose a challenge. Ideas such as a zero-waste cycle are no longer just futuristic visions – they are evolving quickly to tangible expectations and requirements from customers, distributors, and consumers alike. This transformation to a sustainable and circular economy needs especially one question answered: what happens to the raw materials once they have been used? Cradle-to-Cradle® offers a promising approach by not only looking at the sustainability of the end product but at the whole life cycle of every material that was used during production.

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The long way to circular wood furniture

Up to now, there are no Cradle-to-Cradle® certified pieces of furniture. The challenge with this certification lies in the multiple aspects that need to be considered. Cradle-to-Cradle® evaluates products based on five principles:

- The use of ecologically safe and healthy ingredients

- Suitability for material reuse, such as recycling or composting

- The use of renewable energy during production

- The effective use of water and improvement of water quality

- Promoting social responsibility strategies

Currently, no company produces furniture on an industrial scale consistently according to C2C principles. Some approaches are planned and designers and manufacturers with small series are already demonstrating them. Therefore, the basic prerequisites are in place and huge market opportunities are open. But if the credible certification from the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute is to be acquired, all principles have to be fulfilled. There is no room for exploitation of manufacturers, users, and the environment. Additionally, close attention must be paid to the harmlessness and sustainability of every raw material used in the production.

But how can wood be given back to mother nature?

Such a complete circularity can hardly be achieved alone. It is essential that the suppliers of raw materials pay attention and do not use harmful practices or materials during the extraction. Therefore, it is recommended to use certified raw materials to create a certified end product. But it is not just what is in it that makes a product ready for Cradle-to-Cradle® certification. It is also what happens after usage: A product that becomes waste at the end of its life, cannot be sustainable and is in the overall C2C view of lower quality. Too much material is lost and therefore wasted. But these two topics go hand in hand. If manufacturers use a toxic wood adhesive, the wood is not recyclable afterward.

In trying to recycle or reuse wood, it is indispensable that all processed are returned into the technical circuit and therefore used again. This refers to pieces of metal as well as adhesives and upholstering. The remaining components are fed into the biological cycle by composting, so the nutrients obtained from this are returned to the forest. From cradle to cradle, as it is called. Alternatively, the wood can of course be reused in other pieces of furniture or any other product. But at the total end of its life, the new beginning in terms of composting is essential.

Cradle-to-cradle certified®: How to get started

The Cradle-to-Cradle Certification® is a way to validate products and companies for their sustainability irrespective of their industry. During the certification process, the whole value chain is analysed, from its economic efficiency to many different aspects of sustainability and circularity.

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Cradle-to-cradle certified®: How to get started

How to Cradle-to-Cradle® with ALFAPURA® wood adhesives

Cradle-to-Cradle® certified raw materials are already available for most fields, such as our certified ALFAPURA® adhesives, but also lacquers, fittings, screws, etc. Costly raw material and supplier evaluations can thus be bypassed, and the design of the new furniture can be started relatively quickly.

The benefits for nature and health

Wherever wood is bonded for a recyclable product, ALFAPURA® can be used. Furniture manufactured from the renewable raw material wood can be constructed in a robust, long-lasting, and secure manner. Gluing procedures are still a vital fundamental technology in the furniture business. It is important for stability to use the correct adhesive when building furniture such as bed frames, chairs, and tables, or when gluing different wood components and types of wood together.

ALFAPURA® adhesives also play a crucial role in achieving cost-effective and efficient working practices. Traditional adhesives have the potential to emit hazardous compounds over time. With ALFAPURA®, you are in good hands. There are neither toxic nor any hidden components in the environmentally friendly adhesive at all.

What are the next steps?

Many people are afraid that because of the pandemic, climate issues will be torn in the back, as other issues are more important. But in our view, little is more important than the health of our planet and of the people. What is more, the last months have shown us the potential we have to change our lifestyle if we really want to. So why not take this energy and invest it? If you want to learn more, sign up for our Newsletter!