The Cradle to Cradle Principle

For better building materials

Anyone entering the search term sustainability into the Google search engine today will currently receive around 52 million references. There is hardly a sector in the building materials industry without a direct or indirect reference to sustainability. Ultimately, the former concrete claim is decisive: “It’s what you make of it that counts!” That’s exactly our point. At Baukom, we have re-evaluated sustainability for our company, developed it intelligently, underpinned it solidly and implemented it in concrete activities.

Sustainability is now a corporate strategy

Over the last three years, the importance of sustainability has changed significantly at Baukom. In a very dynamic process, sustainability has evolved from one of several corporate principles to become the decisive corporate strategy today. Prof Dr Michael Braungart and his Cradle to Cradle® concept provide the necessary foundation for this approach. “Innovation only has a future with sustainability!” -says Professor Braungart. Baukom has put this guiding principle into practice with the SmartPac concept for packaging:

SmartPac tube packaging was introduced in 2017, which protects the profiles from production to the construction site and beyond. The required profiles are only removed from the tube packaging shortly before installation and installed immediately. The remaining profiles are pushed back into the tube and transported safely onwards. In 2018, the SmartPac film packaging (still PE-based) was added in a second phase and at the end of 2020 the PE film was replaced by the biodegradable SmartPac biofilm.

Source: www.bauwende.com

Cradle to Cradle® principle

Baukom’s guiding principle for implementing sustainability is the Cradle to Cradle® principle (C2C). In this concept, products are no longer only assessed according to their aesthetics and functionality, but also according to their impact on the environment and health and their suitability for the material cycle. The Cradle to Cradle® Certified™ product standard is the brainchild of scientists Prof Dr Michael Braungart and William McDonough and is awarded by the Cradle to Cradle® Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII), a non-profit organisation based in San Francisco (USA). The process leading up to certification brings designers and manufacturers together through a process of continuous product optimisation towards a combination of sophisticated aesthetics, technical quality and the highest ecological standards.

C2C requires a paradigm shift in the way a product is designed, assembled, used and returned. Baukom Managing Director Stefan Endlweber: “Intensive discussions with Dr Michael Braungart led us down this path of thinking in cycles (see graphic on the next page) and ultimately led to the realisation that we need to rethink! We need innovations that save raw materials.”

Sustainability generates customer benefits

Actively practising C2C certification enables you to make progress for your company:

  • Growing independence from raw material shortages through continuous circular economy
  • Positive ecological footprint
  • Differentiation from the competition through increased brand value and reputation
  • Defined framework for product and process optimisation
  • Sales and margins for sustainable products and services increase continuously
  • Profitability of the company increases due to changed processes
  • Improved image

The image boost is of course also important for Baukom sales partners and their business customers. With the sustainability strategy behind them and products that have been developed in accordance with C2C criteria, they can set themselves apart from direct competitors.

Production line for SmartPac organic packaging film

Sustainability in practice

The concrete Cradlebility® process at Baukom ultimately began at the product level. The company’s logistics were analysed and completely restructured, and inventories were digitalised in order to optimise processes. Stefan Endlweber: “It became clear that we have a high rate of damage to profiles in particular, which can be attributed to a lack of protection during transport from the factory to the wholesaler and from there to the professional customer. The storage situations at retailers and specialist companies are also unsatisfactory in some cases, and handling on construction sites often adds to the problem, meaning that the products are damaged and in some cases can no longer be used at all.”

This scenario offered various starting points for realising sustainability and safety for the profiles. A key starting point for Baukom was the packaging, initially as tubular packaging, then with the help of stable PE film, which in turn was replaced by biodegradable film.

The simplest things are usually the best!

The innovative tube packaging concept protects sensitive filler profiles from transport and storage damage. The required profiles are only removed from the tube packaging shortly before installation and installed immediately. The remaining profiles are pushed back into the tube and transported safely onwards. The tube also serves as a brand ambassador.

With the “SmartPac” concept, it was possible to achieve a sustainable improvement in the reject rates within the complete process chain for aluminium edgeband profiles for drywall construction, with waste avoidance of the raw material aluminium of approx. 20%.

SmartPac Röhren

The following figures illustrate the great effect:

  • According to a study by the European Aluminium Association (EAA), the production of one tonne of primary aluminiumreleases 8,566 kg of CO2

  • The estimated production capacity in Europe of approx. 100,000,000 running metres of aluminium edgeband profiles means approx. 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year for the production of the primary aluminium required for this.

  • The Baukom concept has already cumulatively saved approx. 1,136 tonnes of CO2 in the years 2017 to 2020 inclusive

The most important advantages are:

  • Customised container sizes

  • No rejects, no tearing, no bending

  • Safety on all transport routes

  • Packaging 100% recyclable – less waste