“Improvement of Skills in the Green Economy through an

Advanced Training Program Cradle to Cradle” (C2C in SMEs)

Within Erasmus+ Programme from 01.09.2014 to 31.08.2016

 


Energy efficiency, climate and biodiversity protection belong to the EU top priorities and are likewise of considerable and growing importance of the economy in the member states. In order to meet the challenges of growing landfills, scarcity of resources, air pollution, to name a few of them, new ways of thinking and of economic activity are essential. This is exactly what the Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) concept is: products flow in infinite material life cycles thus being economically successful, conducive to the environment and healthy for consumers without producing any kind of waste. Besides, the C2C is not a brandnew concept that has been popped up for a short moment like a fashionable product that is needed by nobody shortly afterwards. Cradle to Cradle® concept, born as vision by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart and William McDonough in 1990ies, has become real, and now it is well known on the world market: more than 1.500 products have been developed according to the C2C principles and some regions even switch processual on C2C.

The way of production “from the cradle to cradle” is directly counterposed to the prevailing production model “cradle to grave”, where the material cycles are set up regardless of conservation of resources or environmental protection. So far, though, there lacks targeting of C2C concept in SMEs in Europe while increasing energy efficiency and environmental protection is of growing importance in SMEs. Moreover, SMEs with C2C are more future oriented, capture new market segments and create new jobs to reduce their costs and make a vital contribution to tackling the energy and environmental challenges in the long term.

Despite the advantages the Cradle to Cradle approach in SMEs can bring it has been used only in big companies and in SMEs it is hardly known.

Given this, in 2014 the EU co-funded project “Improvement of skills in the green economy through an advanced training program Cradle to Cradle” (C2C for SMEs) was launched. For the past two years the lead of the project has been taken by the Hanse Parlament being an umbrella organization of 50 chambers of commerce, crafts and industry from 13 Baltic Sea Region countries. In 2010 Hanse Parlament established an association Baltic Sea Academy of currently 17 member universities from 9 countries. Together they focus on promotion of innovation and qualification for SMEs. Those 50 chambers and 17 universities are important associated partners and disseminate the project results on a wide basis.

The core partner of the project – Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA), was founded by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart almost 30 years ago. EPEA brings the expertise of C2C and development and carrying out of further trainings in this field.

Further project partners are the Chamber of Crafts in Schwerin with its Training and Technology Center, the Lower Silesian Chamber of Craft and Small and Medium-sized Businesses in Wroclaw and the Hungarian Association of Craftsmen’s Corporations having close cooperation with SMEs, expertise of their needs and human resources and facilities to train.

Satakunta University of Applied Sciences contributes with excellent Know-How in scientific evaluation and training planning inter alia and last but not least the Regional Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Gdansk makes crucial content-related contributions and supports with founded knowledge of environmental issues in particular.

The overall aim of the project is to sensitize owners and employees in SMEs for the topic Cradle to Cradle and to empower those to use C2C through tailored advanced training.

This is accompanied by the important goal to qualify people in terms of future labor market needs and to provide skills that are of growing importance for the future of companies. Therefore in the project life time advanced training on C2C for SMEs is developed. Participating in the training C2C methodology, products and the way to apply C2C is introduced, receiving knowledge and skills in an interactive, multi-stage process with the possibility to apply C2C methodology during the training in own enterprise. The environmental management in SMEs is particularly addressed, so that environmentally conscious entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills are promoted. The developed advanced training is tested in practice in Germany, Poland and Hungary and subsequently transferred to the associated partners that receive constant consultations to enable sustainable implementation of C2C.

Another aim is to qualify employees of universities and chambers on the subject so that well qualified lecturers are constantly available for SMEs as trainers and advisors for individual support.