Twenty cleaning products made by San Francisco-based Method have earned Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification, a big step towards increasing the amount of C2C products in the consumer marketplace.

Method's achievement of C2C Silver certification for various varieties of liquid dish soap, hand wash, and foaming hand wash will put C2C products in many stores nationwide for the first time. And Method is in the process of certifying an additional 20 products.

While there are now 200 products that carry various levels of C2C certification, ranging from insulation and carpeting to chairs and whiteboards, the vast majority of them are not aimed at consumers, and the consumer product companies that have C2C certification only have it for a few items.

Method hand wash

The C2C certification process, administered by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), looks for environmentally safe materials, design for material reutilization (recycling, composting, etc.), use of renewable energy, water and energy efficiency, and company social responsibility practices.

Method has been working with MBDC since 2006, said Drummond Lawson, Method's Green Giant (a.k.a. environmental strategist), but has worked on certification for only the last year. Previously Method was using MBDC's services for product development, assessing materials and looking into manufacturing innovations.

Much of that research, such as finding out the best adhesives to use on packaging labels so that they don't muck up recycling systems, helped Method's products meet C2C standards, and the certification just confirms their status.

Since Method was founded in 2000, they've been selling home and personal cleaning products with a focus on non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients. All the materials inside of their products are listed on their website, and in some cases they go beyond just listing ingredients names and explain what the ingredients do.

All the certified products are packaged in bottles made of 100 percent recycled PET. Last year, Method switched the packaging for its surface cleaners, floor cleaners and specialty sprays to 100 percent recycled plastic, which it then rolled out to other products. "That was one of the Cradle to Cradle-inspired ideas we were chasing for a while," Lawson said.

The company also changed up its carbon offset program last year, taking money it typically spends on carbon offsets and instead using that money to help suppliers invest in energy efficient equipment and on-site renewable energy systems. Method continues to purchase carbon offsets to make up for emissions from manufacturing, employee commuting and corporate travel.

Method's own lack of on-site renewable energy is something that kept the products from receiving higher than Silver certification, but the company has a couple renewable pilot projects in the works, and is aiming to get its products to Gold or Platinum certification.