Kaelin’s involvement in Rohner Textil AG’s environmentally-conscious and innovative manufacturing earned the mill no less than 19 international design awards during the 1990s and his mill was also awarded a European Eco-tex certification for its ecologically-produced textiles.
In 2001, Kaelin was awarded the UBS Key Trophy for “Rhine Valley Entrepreneur of the Year” and in the same year, supported DesignTex’s decision to allow the entire textile industry to have the formula for their ground-breaking Cradle to Cradle® processes. Kaelin’s company wrote a letter to all members of the Association for Contract Textiles, inviting them to apply the Cradle to Cradle® concepts. The sentiment was all about “leadership, not ownership” and this ethos still holds sway today.
Between 2005 and 2009, Kaelin was appointed by Professor Braungart as the CEO of EPEA International Umweltforschung in Hamburg, and later the CEO of EPEA Nederland.
In 2009, Kaelin left his positions with EPEA Hamburg and Nederland and founded EPEA Switzerland GmbH. EPEA believes in achieving environmental sustainability through production in a closed loop cycle. By incorporating the 1992 Hannover Principles defined by McDonough and Braungart, the organisation encourages environment protection on a global scale, working with businesses and organisations to move towards a circular economy.
Kaelin and his team continue to work internationally to consult on and accredit Cradle to Cradle® certification, helping to define and develop cyclable products for a truly sustainable economy. Their goal is to educate and inspire companies using the Cradle to Cradle® principle, considering economic, ecological and social issues at all stages of a product’s life cycle, from design to manufacturing to waste management and ‘upcycling’.
With the European Union’s recent publication in Brussels of an action plan towards a circular economy among its member countries and beyond, EPEA’s role in disseminating the Cradle to Cradle® concept is more crucial than ever.