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In 2016, MBDC served as assessor for the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Products Program to help C&A, the leading European fashion retailer, Fashion for Good, and McDonough Innovation achieve their goal of getting two India-based garment manufacturers – Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex – to develop and produce two Cradle to Cradle (C2C) CertifiedTM T-shirts. In total, the project took nine months. The project team visited both manufacturers to develop a baseline assessment of their factories using the C2C Certified criteria. Since both manufacturers already operated best-practice programmes for water treatment, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, the improvements needed in these areas were minimal. The T-shirts were certified GOLD – an achievement level not seen before for a fashion garment.


Step 1. Prescreen.

Before MBDC’s assessment began, C&A conducted a pre-screen of their current suppliers and identified several that had existing social fairness programs. Out of this group, two suppliers also had existing closed loop water programs – Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex. The team knew right away these two companies had the best chance of achieving C2C Gold so the brand decided to use them as a launching pad for their first C2C project.

Tip: The key to a successful Cradle to Cradle Certification project is the “pre-work” and the screening before hand. – Howie Fendley, MBDC Project Manager

Step 2. Pick a product.

C&A decided to focus their first C2C project on two styles of t-shirts, one from each supplier. At Pratibha, they chose a women’s form fitting t-shirt, and at Cotton Blossom, a basic t-shirt.

Step 3. Site Visits and Inventory.

An MBDC representative conducted site visits at both Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex to collect as much data as possible. Together with the brand leaders and on-site engineers, they walked through each of the five C2C criteria to assess current conditions.

“There are many benefits to visiting manufacturing sites. For example, the most accurate way to determine energy sourcing is to be on site observing the product during production.” – Howie Fendley, MBDC Project Manager

Step 4. Assess & Optimize.

The two manufacturers submitted the T-shirts’ Bill of Materials (BoM), including process chemicals, to MBDC for an initial chemical assessment. MBDC then worked with the two manufacturers to optimise the materials and chemicals used, i.e. to replace potentially hazardous or uncharacterized chemicals with chemicals that had been positively assessed.

The project team developed a Material Reutilisation strategy, and coordinated the purchase of Renewable Energy certificates (RECs) and carbon offsets to fulfil C2C Certified criteria for Material Reutilisation and Renewable Energy respectively.

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