Cradle to Grave Definition

Cite this article as:"Cradle to Grave Definition," in The Business Professor, updated March 19, 2019, last accessed October 29, 2020,


Cradle to Grave Definition

Cradle to Grave is a methodology used to evaluate natural effects linked to all the phases in the life of the product beginning from obtaining of raw materials, processing of these materials, manufacturing, dissemination, usage, maintenance, and repair, and selling or reusing. Normally, this procedure is utilized by designers when assessing their goods. Additionally, LCAs is able to keep away a shallow view of environmental affairs through:

  • Putting together an inventory of applicable energy and raw materials together with other productions within the environment.
  • Investigating the possible effects linked to the inputs and releases.
  • Processing the outcomes to enable informed decision making.

A Little More on What is Cradle to Grave or Life Cycle Assessment

The objective of Life Cycle Assessment is to draw a comparison of various environmental impacts attributed to services and goods by measuring the movement of materials in and out of the organization and how that flow impact on the environment. This data is critical not only in enhancing processes but also assisting in making good decisions.

The phrase life cycle describes the perception that a just and a comprehensive assessment calls for proper analysis in the production of raw materials, manufacturing, dissemination, usage, disposal and all the ways of transportation brought about by the existence of the product.

Generally, there are two kinds of LCA namely attributional LCAs focused on finding out the difficulties linked to the manufacture of the good and its use at a particular period. On the other hand, Consequential LCAs concentrates more on the environmental impacts of proposed changes or decisions in the system which is being studied. This implies that economic and market effects of a particular decision should always be taken into account. Another life cycle assessment that compliments the environmental LCA is the Social LCA which mainly deals with social effects.

The processes of Life Cycle Assessment are derived from the ISO 14000 standards of managing environment; ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006. The old versions of ISO 14041 to ISO 14043 were replaced by the new version of ISO 14044.GHG product life cycle assessment may also adhere with requirements like those of PAS 2050. Going by the specifications of ISO 14040 and 14044, a life cycle assessment is conducted in four steps as demonstrated in the diagram on the right. These steps are usually related because the outcomes of one step determine how the other phases will proceed.

Goal and scope

LCA begins with a description of the scope and goals which provides the basis of the study and specifies the mode of communicating the outcomes and who the target audience is. This is a very important procedure as the ISO requirements ensure that the scope and goals of LCA be well described and matching the planned purpose. For this reason, the goal and scope certificate entails the following key technical attributes responsible for guiding the successive works:

  •         The functional unit- describes what exactly is under study by measuring the service provided by the product structure hence giving a basis for relating outputs and inputs. In addition, the functional unit is a key element that allows alternative services or products to be weighed and analyzed. In general, a functional unit satisfies an intended purpose just like paint covers a wall with a functional unit of 1m² going for a period of 10 years. In this case, the functional flow is the relevant items required for completing that function which entails the paint, a brush and a tin of paint.
  •         The system boundaries- this governs the kinds of procedures that should be entailed in the product system assessment.
  •         Any assumption and limitations
  •         The allocation methods refer to the formula for partitioning environmental effects of a procedure in situations where many functions or products share similar processes. The allocation may be achieved through one of these three aspects: partition, substitution and system expansion. However, it may be difficult to achieve this purpose due to the fact that various procedures deliver separate outcomes.
  •         The impact categories selected for instance global warming, eutrophication, human toxicity, and smog.

According to the LCA practitioners survey of 2006, one major role of LCA is to aid business plans(18%) and R&D(18%), 15% for input and designing the product, 13% for education and 11% for declaring the product. LCA will merge with various environmental aspects like the European ENSLIN Building project which guides practitioners on how to put into use design aspects when implementing LCI data.

Many firms in the global arena are either practicing LCA within or supporting its studies. On the other hand, governments support LCA by factoring it in when developing national databases. Specifically is the rising in the usage of LCA for ISO Type III Labels are known as Environmental Product Declarations which is described as “quantified environmental data for a product with pre-set categories of parameters based on the ISO 14040 series of standards, but not excluding additional environmental information”. Such LCA is the third party which gives an important avenue for the analysis of various environmental advantages of the products that are competing. Third party approval is very critical in the current industry. Certification not subject to outside influence proves the firm’s focus towards friendly and safe environmental goods to both NGOs and customers.

Despite all these, LCA plays key purposes in the assessment of environmental impact, the study of pollution and consolidated management of waste. A survey carried out recently considered the LCA of a laboratory-based experiment for an air filled with oxygen accompanied by economic analysis from the eco-design perceptive. In addition to these, LCA has been useful in finding out the environmental influence in maintaining pavement, rehabilitation, and general repair.

References for Cradle to Grave

Academic Research on Cradle to Grave

  • From cradle-to-grave at the nanoscale: gaps in US regulatory oversight along the nanomaterial life cycle, Beaudrie, C. E., Kandlikar, M., & Satterfield, T. (2013). Environmental science & technology, 47(11), 5524-5534. The article is generally concerned with how engineered nanomaterial [ENMs] can be of benefit to society and how they can be monitored and regulated. The findings reveal that some kinds of engineered nanomaterials may skip government check review in terms of the risk involved in various life cycles of a product, with huge gaps being encountered during the aftermarket stages. The author goes ahead to suggest ways in which these modes of oversights can be enhanced by changing laws, monitoring research and development, and frequently re-evaluating Engineered Nanomaterials amongst others. The paper also dwelt into investigating the regulations concerning environmental health and safety (EHS) by use of life cycle as the framework. In addition to this, the author goes ahead to advocate for responsible methods of managing some of these risks.
  • Food industry marketing in elementary schools: implications for school health professionals, Levine, J. (1999). Journal of School Health, 69(7), 290-290. The author in this article is concerned with the study of marketing food industry within elementary schools. He goes ahead to look into the effects that such a move has on the professionals within the school of health.
  • Marketing in the 21st century, Belz, F. M. (2006). Business Strategy and the Environment, 15(3), 139-144. This paper dwells with how marketing and promotion can be achieved in the 21st century. The author goes ahead to highlight the strategies and plans that can be laid down to achieve this objective.
  • The utilization-focused service economy: Resource efficiency and product-life extension, Stahel, W. (1994). The greening of industrial ecosystems, 178-190. In this article, the author is concerned with how focused service economy can be put into use. In addition to this, the author proceeds to describe to us how we can extend the life cycle of the product and the efficiencies in the allocation and use of resources.
  • Sustainability, epistemology, ecocentric business, and marketing strategy: Ideology, reality, and vision, Borland, H., & Lindgreen, A. (2013). Journal of Business Ethics, 117(1), 173-187. This paper is determined to find out how sustainable the theories of knowledge can be used in the strategies of marketing in businesses. In addition to this, the article dwells into the realistic nature and vision of such a move, and the ideologies behind it.
  • Workplace sustainability: the “Cradle to Grave” view of what we do, McGain, F., Story, D., Kayak, E., Kashima, Y., & McAlister, S. (2012). Anesthesia & Analgesia, 114(5), 1134-1139. These authors are mostly determined in finding out how the assessment of the life cycle can be maintained and sustained in the places of work, while at the same time looking deeply into the things that people do.
  • Sustainable marketing: Strategies playing in the background, Fuller, D. A., & Gillett, P. L. (1999, January). In American Marketing Association. Conference Proceedings (Vol. 10, p. 222). American Marketing Association. This article attempts to lay down the plans and strategies that can be put into use in the organizations. This is done with the aim of finding out sustainable marketing and how to maintain such strategies in use.
  • Comparison in industrial marketing research, Harrison, D., & Easton, G. (2004). Critical realist applications in organisation and management studies, 194. The writer in this paper dwells more on drawing comparisons in the methods of conducting marketing research and surveys in the different sectors of the industries, and how the same can be applied to manage these organizations. The author finds out that these marketing researches vary from one industry to the other because of the different needs they fulfill.
  • Understanding innovation from cradle to grave, Cumming, B. (1999). In Best Practice (pp. 1-31).  The author in this section is concerned with drawing an understanding from the innovation that may come up in the life of the product ranging from the flow of raw materials to the production level. The article goes ahead to inform us of the critical role that innovation plays in the improvement of the products in question.
  • An introduction to green marketing, Jay Polonsky, M. (2008). Global Environment: Problems and Policies, 2(1). This article concentrates on the process of doing business in products as per their environmental friendliness and benefits. In addition to this, the author tries to find out if there is a link between the environment and business.
  • Decision support systems for marketing managers, Little, J. D. (1979). The Journal of Marketing, 9-26. The article talks about how decision making in marketing can be enhanced by the use of the emergence in brand technology. The author refers to this marketing support system as an organized way of collecting information, analytic tools, models and power of computing which the firm uses to collect information from the environment. In places where such decision support systems have been implemented, they have really benefited the organizations by enhancing their level of production.

Was this article helpful?