Cradle-to-cradle guru launches collaborative to tackle waste through design

William McDonough, co-founder of the cradle-to-cradle movement, has joined forces with a leading US waste contractor to address the wasteful impact of consumer goods.

William McDonough has been instrumental in bringing cradle-to-cradle philosophies to business

William McDonough has been instrumental in bringing cradle-to-cradle philosophies to business

The Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative aims to help foster and guide future product and packaging design innovation among some of the world's leading brands.

It will focus on directly serving producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers of packaged goods and products as they strive to advance their sustainability objectives and results.

Product and packaging design for recyclability as well as careful consideration of ecological and human health - in line with cradle-to-cradle ambitions - will be among the collaborative's goals.

Along with chemist Michael Braungart, William McDonough is widely credited with forging the cradle-to-cradle movement which is now starting to take flight in the UK as the circular economy agenda accelerates.

The partner for the collaborative is Waste Management, North America's largest environmental solutions provider and leading residential recycler.

McDonough said that much of his focus was now centred "designing up from the dumpster" and that the venture would provide a new avenue for innovation.

"What we have previously thought of as waste streams can be transformed into positive, safe, healthy resource reuse systems that bring value to their communities in many forms.

"This is a key element of the cradle-to-cradle vision ... we see resources as nutrients in the biosphere or technosphere. Once you reframe materials this way, the future of abundance becomes possible."

He added that the collaborative would work towards eliminating the concept of waste using a combination of design, science and principled business practices in partnership with manufacturers, retailers, distributors, consumers and reprocessors.

Waste Management's director of sustainability services Tom Carpenter said there was growing demand from manufacturers to address every link along their supply chains to reduce the amount residual waste.

"This collaborative will combine design, recycling and material science expertise to guide these next generation strategies," he said.

Maxine Perella


| Circular economy | Reuse | upcycling | resource revolution


Waste & resource management
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