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Circular Disruptors Honored in Davos; C2C Design Challenge Winners Rethink Products

Home page image: William McDonough in front of the ICEhouse in 2016; Main article image: The 2017 ICEhouse in Davos | Images credit: William McDonough + Partners

The World Economic Forum’s Community of Young Global Leaders, in collaboration with Accenture Strategy, yesterday announced the winners of the 2017 Circulars at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters.

The third annual Circulars awards showcased advances from the private sector, public sector and civil society that drive innovation and growth while reducing dependence on scarce natural resources.

The Accenture Strategy Award for Circular Economy Multinational went to both NIKE, Inc., for leading work on material efficiency and waste reduction, and aiming to double its business with half the impact through adopting circular economy principles; and to Patagonia, for a long track record of sustainable innovation in the industry and embedding the principles of the circular economy into its business strategy through the likes of its ‘Worn Wear’ initiatives.

"We are honored to receive this meaningful, important recognition," said Ryan Gellert, general manager of Patagonia Europe, who accepted the award. "While Patagonia is proud to accept this award, we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible with a circular economy model. There is still so much work to be done to change global consumption habits and encourage reuse and repair."

The Young Global Leaders Award for Circular Economy SME went to MBA Polymers, Inc., which upcycles complex plastic waste streams to the same quality, and at the same price, as virgin plastic, with the potential for scale and impact in plastics globally. The AB InBev Award for Circular Economy Governments, Cities and Regions recognized the Scottish Government, for leading a coalition across business and government to drive the circular economy in Scotland with clear impact demonstrated and ambitious targets for the future. The CNBC Award for Circular Economy Investor went to SJF Ventures, for investing in circular economy businesses across their target sectors that simultaneously scale social and environmental impact whilst delivering sound financials.

The Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Digital Disruptor: Rubicon Global, for providing a sustainable waste and recycling solution that utilizes cloud-based technology and big data to connect customers with haulers. The Dell Circular Economy People’s Choice Award went to Bioelektra Group, chosen by public vote for developing and promoting a technological solution that enables the treatment of unsegregated municipal waste.

And the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership went to William McDonough, Chief Executive of McDonough Innovation, a globally recognized leader in sustainable design and development. He advises leaders worldwide through McDonough Innovation and with MBDC, and introduced the concepts of biological and technical cycles to the circular economy field.

At the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos this year, McDonough’s iconic ICEhouse™ (Innovation for the Circular Economy House) has returned as a meeting place for a second year in a row. This special Davos edition is made of technical materials (durable polymers, aluminum and aerogel) that will be returned to industry at the end of their use cycle. These durable elements can be endlessly used and reused in new products across generations.

“I am honored to receive this award and to have had the opportunity to promote the circular economy as a key component of Cradle to Cradle-inspired design,” McDonough said. “Our goal is very simple: to work toward a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world — with clean air, water, soil, and power — economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed. This is a clear, values-based goal that can be used by all leaders of today and tomorrow to produce value. It allows us to shift from seeing a world of limits and self-centeredness to seeing a world of abundance, resourcefulness and shared benefit in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I am grateful to WEF for encouraging our work, and I urge industry to join us in moving toward a circular economy.”

Speaking of Cradle to Cradle design, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute today recognized new designs for a prescription medication bottle, a pocket knife, luggage and a solar-powered aluminum casting process as winners of the fourth Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge.

This is the fourth in a series of six circular design challenges scheduled to run through early 2018. The challenges are presented by the Institute in collaboration with Autodesk and made possible by Arconic Foundation. 162 designers across 19 countries submitted work for the fourth round of the design challenge, which encourages the design community to envision solutions for the circular economy, powered by Cradle to Cradle product design principles. And the winners are:

  • Best Student Project: REX: In the United States alone, an estimated 4 billion prescriptions are filled, and many curbside recycling programs do not accept pill bottles. North Carolina State University student Mallory Barrett presented an innovative solution to medical packaging waste. REX offers reusable, stainless steel medicine containers that do not require adhesive labels, in a circular business model that eliminates the need for the constant reproduction of the current plastic bottles.
  • Best Professional Project: Eco-Luggage: Eco-Luggage rethinks the way we carry during travel or displacement, with easily detachable, multi-use components. Designers Taina Campos and Jeremy Godel of Paris’ Frame Design Studio put design for disassembly at the core of their approach to Eco-Luggage. Because it can be easily disassembled, individual parts can be repaired or replaced as needed - and at the end of use, they can be cycled as biological and technical nutrients.
  • Best Use of Aluminum: SolarCasting: Developed by Bert Green, Allison Warth, Andrew Fabian and Ashleigh Otto of Virginia-based SolarMill, SolarCasting offers an innovative take on reclaiming and recycling aluminum. Using a solar furnace built from reclaimed parts, SolarCasting uses concentrated sunlight to melt a crucible of reclaimed aluminum, which can then be poured into a variety of molds to produce mechanical or aesthetic objects. By combining the 100 percent carbon-free foundry with lead-free aluminum, SolarCasting creates an unbreakable chain of material reclamation without the need for fossil fuels.
  • Best Use of Fusion 360: Leave No Trace Leaf Knife: Ari Elefterin and Matt Callahan of Parson School of Design, The New School, designed The Leaf Knife as the first product of Leave No Trace, a camping gear company for the circular economy. The duo developed an accompanying Leave No Trace service system that offers uses options for product care and equipment while keeping all technical materials moving through a perpetual cycle of use and reuse. The Leaf Knife’s design represents an effective blend of sculpting, parametric modeling and assembly joints using Autodesk Fusion 360.

“More and more, the design community is recognizing the way using Cradle to Cradle Certified materials and applying Cradle to Cradle product design principles provides a clear means of translating the vision of a circular economy into reality,” said Institute President Lewis Perkins. “It’s exciting to see a similar escalation in the number of entries we receive for the Challenge, as students and professionals alike use the competition as an open space to explore and experiment with Cradle to Cradle product design either in a conceptual or real-world way.”

Three of the four winning designs utilized Fusion 360, and more than 35 percent of entries overall were made using the integrated 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) tool for product development that powers industrial design, mechanical engineering and manufacturing.

To enter the Challenge, participants must first complete a free two-hour online courseDesigning Cradle to Cradle Certified Products for the Circular Economy, developed in collaboration with Autodesk. The course was made possible by Arconic Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and skills training worldwide, with a special emphasis on engaging and creating access for under-represented and under-served groups.

The fourth Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge was open from September 1st, 2016 to December 10th, 2016. The fifth Challenge will open for entries in February 2017.


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