MBDC – Helping Business Rethink Business

20 06 2007

This is no ordinary laptop bag. It is the first of its kind.

A bag designed to begin to meet the product design protocols of Cradle to Cradle certification developed by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Created by Timbuk2, the TED2006 bag was “version 1.0 of the company’s intent to move in the right direction of complete C2C compliance.” Timbuk2 is on a mission to become an “eco-effective” company with products that are highly profitable yet does no harm (in fact is a net regenerative influence) to the environment.

We have posted about McDonough and Braungart as well as their book, design protocol, and certification program called Cradle to Cradle previously. Use the search function to locate them.

What is MBDC?

Founded in 1995, MBDC is a “product and process design firm dedicated to transforming the design of products, processes, and services worldwide” to power the Next Industrial Revolution through intelligent design.

Their core value proposition is driven from their Cradle to Cradle design protocol that stresses “eco-effectiveness” over “eco-efficiency” to create products and systems that contribute to economic, social, and environmental prosperity. Clients run the gamut from Nike to Herman Miller and even the Chinese government.

MBDC strives to help industry “rethink” their business and products:

  • Buildings that, like trees, are net energy exporters, produce more energy than they consume, accrue and store solar energy, and purify their own waste water and release it slowly in a purer form.
  • Factory effluent water that is cleaner than the influent.
  • Products that, when their useful life is over, do not become useless waste, but can be tossed onto the ground to decompose and become food for plants and animals, rebuilding soil; or, alternately, return to industrial cycles to supply high quality raw materials for new products.
  • Billions, even trillions of dollars worth of materials accrued for human and natural purposes each year.
  • A world of abundance, not one of limits, pollution, and waste.

MBDC services include:

  1. Cradle to Cradle certification
  2. Leadership visioning that leads management through strategy building, innovative product design assistance, or re-invention of an entire manufacturing system
  3. C2C Benchmarking that assesses the current human and environmental health as well as overall lifecycle characteristics of chemicals, materials, products and processes of a business
  4. C2C Education workshops
  5. Secure web-based information exchange tools for supplier networks, to stand-alone knowledge development and materials decision tools for professional designers, to highly customized software models to evaluate product attributes according to Cradle to Cradle Design criteria
  6. Product co-marketing

Here is a great presentation on Cradle to Cradle from one of their online workshops conducted by their non-profit institute GreenBlue.

GreenBlue – An Open Source Strategy for C2C Promotion

In 2002, MBDC founded GreenBlue, a non-profit institute that stimulates the creative redesign of industry by focusing the expertise of professional communities to create practical solutions, resources, and opportunities for implementing sustainability.

GreenBlue was founded with the conviction that a non-profit platform will allow broader leveraging of these assets into a comprehensive open-source system of resources for the widespread adoption of cradle-to-cradle principles.

GreenBlue conducts a wide array of working groups and programs of its own:

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is an industry working group inspired by cradle to cradle principles and dedicated to creating a more robust environmental vision for packaging. Through informed design practice, supply chain collaboration, education, and innovation, the coalition strives to transform packaging into a system that encourages an economically prosperous and sustainable flow of materials, creating lasting value for present and future generations.


Green2Green has been developed in response to the growing demand for green building materials and the difficult process of choosing among so many products and possibilities. Their goal is to help people make fast, easy, informed decisions about green building materials and products.

CleanGredientsTM is an online database of institutional and industrial (I&I) cleaning ingredients-the online resource for green formulation. CleanGredientsTM aligns broad environmental and human health goals with the cleaning product industry’s business objectives and will support formulation of products with human and environmental health benefits, whether to meet corporate internal objectives, regulations, voluntary product recognition programs, or national and international eco-labels. CleanGredientsTM is designed to:

  1. help formulators identify ingredients that have potential environmental and human health and safety benefits, and
  2. provide opportunity for manufacturers and producers of cleaning ingredients to showcase their ingredients with potential environmental and human health and safety benefits.

Sustainable Textile Standards

The development of a Sustainable Textile Standard (STS) signals GreenBlue’s intention to fundamentally recreate the way that goods and services are provided in industrialized and industrializing societies. The Standard offers a framework with which to assess and analyze the latent assumptions of existing processes in order to make informed decisions about the future of textile manufacturing and enabling sustainable textiles to lead the way toward a new paradigm.

DfE Green Formulation Initiative

As demand grows for environmentally preferable products, formulators are increasingly seeking sources of ingredients that will help their products succeed in the marketplace. In order to help meet the need for ingredients with positive environmental and human health characteristics, the Green Formulation Initiative, a collaborative agreement between GreenBlue and the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment Program was launched. It is responsible for the cleangredients database.

EDesign Idea Competition

As part of a broader EPA initiative to investigate market-based strategies to eliminate and reduce waste, GreenBlue partnered with the EPA Office of Solid Waste (OSW) to develop cradle-to-cradle principles for the design of electronic products and conduct an idea competition to test these principles.

The project created a set of design resources for use by electronic product designers, to engage their creativity to develop computer products that can be safely metabolized within biological and technical nutrient metabolisms according to the principles of Cradle to Cradle Design.




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