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Cradle to Cradle Design Challenge Winners Provide Practical Everyday Solutions

A rendition of the AtoB Seat. | Image Credit: FromAtoB

The winners of the second Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Product Design Challenge were announced this morning – each solution was carefully designed to maximize the use of materials that can be perpetually cycled for reuse. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk, the hosts of the competition, awarded a $2000 cash prize to the winners in the four categories: Best Student ProjectBest Professional ProjectBest Use of the Autodesk Fusion 360 Tool, and Best Use of Aluminum.

“The Design Challenge is a powerful demonstration of designing with intention to ensure materials in manufactured products retain their value and can be perpetually upcycled,” said Lewis Perkins, Interim President of the C2C Products Innovation Institute. “This year’s winners each exemplify the quest for material health and reuse, and they have brought us one step closer to the goal of a circular market standard.”

Submissions were reviewed through three rounds of judging, which resulted in 11 finalists. Industry experts then evaluated the projects to determine the overall winners:

  • The Onward Bag (Best Student Project) was designed by Virginia Tech student Gabriella Jacobsen in response to the issue of plastic bags as an ocean and waterway pollutant. The bag is made from 60 to 70 percent plastic bags, organic cotton canvas, and biodegradable dye. Jacobsen is currently developing a prototype of the bag, which will feature wave-like patterns inspired by the tide’s cycles.
  • The BikeShare Helmet (Best Professional Project) was designed by designer and educator Barent Roth to accompany the growing bike share community. The helmet is made from a recycled aluminum foam shell and a sustainably grown cork liner to provide maximum protection with minimal bulk and weight.
  • Sweeping the Nation with Change (Best Use of the Autodesk Fusion 360 Tool) is a recycleable broom cleverly designed by The Engineers for a Sustainable World Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Chapter. The broom’s bristle head is made of “highly biodegradable” material that can be replaced independently of the broom’s other components.
  • The AtoB Seat (Best Use of Aluminum) is a seat for public transit designed by Michiel Meurs and his team. Made from recycled aluminum, recycled PET, and formaldehyde-free bamboo plywood, the seat was designed to allow for easy cleaning, maintenance, disassembly, and recyclability. It can be reclaimed by the manufacturer to determine which parts can be reused and which will be recycled.

The Best Use of Aluminum category was new to the second edition of the Challenge in recognition of the value in the recyclability of the material. Aluminum can be recycled over and over again with no loss in quality, and recycling it requires less energy than extracting aluminum from ore.

“Designing for a world facing finite resources and a growing population requires enterprising and intrepid designers, and it's exciting to see these young designers rise to the challenge,” said Lynelle Cameron, senior director, Autodesk sustainability and foundation. “We congratulate them on creating bold new approaches to how we design and make things. The latest C2C challenge presented creative yet practical solutions to the planet's resource scarcity and provided inspiration for what the future holds.”

“The exciting aspect of the future of sustainable design is that it is all possible. We have the ability as a society, with existing technologies, to create products and services that are not only sustainable but actually restorative. What we need is the collective urgency to address our pressing environmental issues,” said Barent Roth, the designer of the BikeShare Helmet. “We are faced with a tremendous sustainable design challenge but it also an incredible opportunity.”

Previous C2C Challenge winners included a water-saving public restroom faucet installation, a 100 percent biodegradable bag, and a chair and stool pair. The next edition of the challenge will begin accepting submissions on January 15, 2016.


Hannah Furlong is one of Sustainable Brands's Contributing Writers, based in Canada. She is researching the circular economy as a Master's student in Sustainability Management at the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor's in Environment and Business Co-op. Hannah… [Read more about Hannah Furlong]


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