This is the first-ever Cradle to Cradle Certified Bronze audio product,” states Mads Kogsgaard Hansen, Bang and Olufsen Senior Global Product Manager for Classics and Product Circularity.
“It is designed for longevity. “Early on we asked ‘what is determining the lifetime of an audio product’? We did vast amounts of user research to find out.”
Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Level speaker, the first Cradle to Cradle Certified consumer electronic, scraps the idea that technology is ultimately disposable.
Here’s the problem: the average lifespan of products is decreasing, while the generation of waste is increasing. How can we counter this?
The bronze Cradle to Cradle standard is a certification that aims to help companies design and
manufacture sustainable products. It factors everything from whether the product uses recycled parts to the environmental impact of its supply chain.
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute VP Strategy & Development, Christina Raab, explained: “Cradle to cradle means that everything is a resource for something else. Waste is designed out of the products. This means you have to rethink their design and each step of the product life cycle’.
“This is a global standard; it’s the most ambitious we know of. It requires them to be safe, circular, and responsibly made. The standard is updated on a yearly basis to reflect the latest science. The fourth version was announced this year. We based it on key pillars: Material health, product circularity, clean air, and climate protection, water and soil stewardship, social fairness.”
Bang and Olufsen already guarantees it will only use FSC certified wood in its products and has run an initiative to reduce its supply chain’s carbon footprint. Bang and Olufsen’s Hansen explained the company took this further with the Beosound Level.
‘We doubled down on customization to let the speaker, like a chameleon, change its skins. This is a functionality that should help you when you move on, change your taste, change your sofa or get a new paint [in your home] and want to update it to fit. We intend to add more emotional durability to the product design,’ he said.
‘That’s one element. But the next step is that there are limitations on battery technology – it will degrade over time. We’ve gone modular so with a simple screwdriver; you can add a new battery pack.’
He added that the firm is also looking to leverage software updates and a new standard processor design to make the speaker offer even more longevity. ‘Then, a decade from now, there could be changes in the tech landscape. To fix this, we’ve done two things. First, in the early stages of the product architecture, we brought extra processing power, so at the moment, it only uses 50% of its processing power,’ he said.
‘This lets us adapt to changes in technology over time, to update it and improve performance. It lets us get extra time from the speaker. Maybe 10 years later, it’s hard to predict what will happen, so we’ve tried to add longevity by making the processing module upgradable. A new chipset should fit in’.
The bronze standard is the lowest Cradle to Cradle certification. Raab said the firm is yet to award any product the top ‘Platinum’ certification and that the Level’s certification is only valid for two years. After that, the product will need to be recertified, considering the changes to the certification standard and Bang and Olufsen’s future practices.
Project: Cradle to Cradle Certified Bronze Audio Product
Designers: Bang and Olufsen A/S
Manufacturer: Bang and Olufsen A/S