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Latest C2C Product Design Challenge Spawns Circular Solutions for Packaging, Footwear, Housing, Food Waste

Today, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute announced the winners of the third Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge. The series of six global design challenges running from 2015 through 2017 are presented by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk, and made possible by the Alcoa Foundation.

138 design professionals and students in 19 countries worked as individuals or in teams to submit 79 entries for this third round of the contest, which challenges design students and professionals to apply Cradle to Cradle principles to conceptualize and develop product solutions that can help drive the circular economy. More than 230 designers from 30 countries have participated in the Challenges to date. Entries were invited across four categories: Best Student Project, Best Professional Project, Best Use of Aluminum, and Best Use of Autodesk Fusion 360 Software.

To engage in the challenge, participants must complete a free 2-hour online course, Designing Cradle to Cradle Certified Products for the Circular Economy, made possible by Alcoa Foundation and developed in collaboration with Autodesk. The Alcoa Foundation’s focus areas include finding solutions to improve the environment through sustainable design.

“We launched the Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge to help the global design community approach the issue of limited global resources as an opportunity for product innovation,” said Lewis Perkins, president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “Designers have a pivotal role to play in driving long-term solutions that circumvent the concept of waste in favor of materials that can remain in a perpetual cycle of use and reuse. From retail packaging to human shelter, the Spring 2016 Challenge winners are outstanding examples of the way young designers and design professionals alike are stepping into the crux of this revolution, using Cradle to Cradle principles to pioneer ideas for innovative materials applications and, in turn, the circular economy.”

Winners were selected by a judging panel of designers, sustainability professionals and industry leaders, including Rie Norregaard, Managing Creative Director – SYP Partners; Jim Kor, Founder and President of KOR EcoLogic, Inc.; Paul Sohi, Fusion 360 Evangelist at Autodesk; Jeremy Faludi, Sustainable Design Strategist & Educator; and Hasso Weiland, Technical Fellow at Breakthrough Technologies – Alcoa. Each of the four winners will receive a cash prize of US$2,000.

The winners are:

Best Student Project: MODS

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Quang Pham, a student at Virginia Tech, created MODS - a modular shoe - in response to the millions of pairs of shoes that end up in landfills each year, where they can take 30-40 years to decompose. MODS shoes can be customized and updated as the shoe deteriorates, without using glue. Made with bamboo and wool textiles and recycled PET fiber, MODS consist of 5 modular units that use the minimal amount of material needed for maximum comfort and security while giving the user full control of the shoe’s aesthetic and functionality.

Best Professional Project: Banana Stem Fiber Packaging

Colombian designers Brayan Stiven Pabón Gómez and Rafael Ricardo Moreno Boada developed Banana Stem Fiber Packaging to transform a geographically abundant material into sustainable food packaging (above). Bananas are farmed across several regions of Colombia, yet farmers currently perceive banana stem fiber (extracted as part of routine crop maintenance) as waste. Drawing upon traditional food preparation methods, Banana Stem Fiber Packaging offers a sustainable alternative to plastic and paper food packaging, along with the potential to generate sustainable economic development in farming communities.

Best Use of Fusion 360: OLI

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Created by Virginia Tech student Claire Davis, OLI is a convenient, elegant and intelligent solution for food waste. Exemplary for its adept use of Fusion 360’s direct modeling functionality (which enables the rapid development of manufacturable product), OLI highlights the value of minimizing biological waste (food), as well as the reduction of material waste through its considered approach to the product system and design for disassembly. With 474 pounds of food waste generated by every household per year on average, OLI offers a practical solution to increasing the percentage of our landfill waste that is composted and returned to cycle in the biosphere.

Best Use of Aluminum: Huba

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Developed by designers Malgorzata Blachnicka & Michal Holcer, Huba is a self-sufficient, compact mountain shelter that is able to generate its own energy. Chosen for its smart design and functional use of sustainable materials, Huba also offers a potential solution for other housing applications, including helping homeless populations or the provision of emergency shelter. Huba’s design is based on traditional alpine architecture, with its small size and choice of materials aimed at minimizing its impact on the environment. Intended to be located above 1000m, the shelter is equipped with an effective vertical wind turbine. The energy produced by the generator is stored within a battery and is used to supply the building’s heating, lighting and water pump. Specially arranged roof tiles enable rainwater to easily be collected within the tank, which is then filtered and safe for drinking.

“As the pressure to meet sustainability standards increase in governments and markets around the world, finding innovative ways to design products using materials like aluminum that can be kept in a constant cycle of use and reuse is imperative,” said Alice Truscott, Alcoa Foundation program manager. “The Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge is a great opportunity for designers to explore new applications for materials, prioritizing the product’s sustainability just as much as the product’s purpose. Congratulations to Malgorzata Blachnicka & Michal Holcer, the Best Use of Aluminum category winners, and to the other winning designers.”

Challenge entries spanned a variety of sectors, including the built environment, packaging, retail furniture and consumer goods. Of the designs submitted, 40 percent were created using Fusion 360, an integrated 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) tool for product development that powers industrial design, mechanical engineering and manufacturing with cloud-based collaboration.

“Today’s designers are challenged with a unique opportunity to create products that meet the needs of a growing world population with ever more limited access to material resources,” according to Lynelle Cameron, senior director of Autodesk sustainability and president and CEO of the Autodesk Foundation. “Beyond traditional CAD/CAM tools, designers are looking for cloud-based connected design platforms that facilitate radical collaboration and sophisticated analysis and simulation. Congratulations to Claire Davis, winner of the Best Use of Autodesk 360, for an inspiring demonstration of sustainable design in action.”

In addition to the Challenge prize, Autodesk will also award Davis with one full pass, along with travel, to Autodesk University.

The third Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge was open from February 1-May 3, 2016. The fourth Challenge will open for entries in September, 2016. 


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