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Design Challenge Generates Ideas for the Waste Industry

Winners were selected last week for the second Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge presented by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit organization; Autodesk, a 3D design software company; and the Alcoa Foundation, a lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing company. Several of the innovations may help springboard ideas in the waste industry.

Lewis Perkins, interim president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute based in San Francisco, says how products and materials are designed to be used, re-used, disposed of, or recycled have huge impacts onand potential benefits forthe waste industry.

“(The) institute envisions remaking the way we make things, so all products can be composed of safe materials that can be perpetually and continuously cycled,” he says. “If we can inspire the design community and all industries to consider material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness, we can enable the solid waste industry to be a crucial facilitator for efficiency and maximizing value for our global population.”

Perkins says this year’s winners each exemplify the quest for material health and reuse.

“This is where dealing with solid waste becomes ‘nutrient management’when all materials retain their value, the nutrient management industry becomes a key player in the movement and distribution of resources,” he says.

The group received more than 80 designs from 18 different countries around the world. Industry experts chosen to represent an objective selection process judged the entries. Winners were recognized in four categories: Best Student Project, Best Professional Project, Best Use of Aluminum, and Best Use of Autodesk 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.

Winners were awarded a $2,000 cash prize for their ingenuity. The Best Use of Fusion 360 category prize also comes with a full pass to Autodesk University 2016 and a $1,000 travel stipend. This year’s winners included:

  • Best Student Project: Gabriella Jacobsen, a student at Virginia Tech, designed the Onward Bag to address the issue of plastic bags being a major pollutant in oceans and waterways. It is made from 60-70 recycled plastic bags, a yard of organic cotton canvas, canvas thread, and biodegradable dye. The product is designed to be capable of reducing overall plastic waste and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by taking advantage of the embodied energy in the already processed plastic bags.
  • Best Professional Project: Barent Roth, a designer and educator, is recognized for his BikeShare Helmet, a simple unisex style bike helmet designed specifically to integrate with the growing bike share community. The BikeShare Helmet uses a recycled aluminum foam shell and a sustainably grown cork liner to provide maximum protection with minimal bulk and weight while ensuring all materials are either recycled or composted.
  • Best Use of Autodesk Fusion 360: The Engineers for a Sustainable World Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Chapter developed a recyclable broom with a bristle head made of highly biodegradable material that can be replaced independently of the broom’s other components. With the functionality of three brooms, but with the material and monetary costs of one, the broom they named “Sweeping the Nation with Change” provides significant environmental and economic benefits. The entire model was assembled using Fusion 360 and allowed the team to compare and conserve materials through the animation feature, promoting a Cradle to Cradle approach to design.
  • Best Use of Aluminum: Michiel Meurs and his team designed the AtoB Seat, a seat for public transport made from recycled aluminum, recycled PET, and formaldehyde free bamboo plywood. At end of use, the AtoB Seat can be reclaimed by the manufacturer to determine which parts will be reused or recycled. It offers a sustainable solution for seating in public transportation infrastructure by allowing for easy cleaning, maintenance, disassembly, and recyclability.

The Best Use of Aluminum category was newly added this year. “We’re thrilled to support a certification program and design challenge that motivates the next generation of designers to incorporate sustainable practices,” Alice Truscott, program manager for the Alcoa Foundation, said in a statement.

The institute created this design challenge as an opportunity to develop resources to engage, inform, and inspire emerging designers and students to join the design-led revolution.

“The key to these innovations is cradle to cradle design—considering and determining in the design stage if a material will enter the biological nutrient cycle, or will be utilized in the technical nutrient cycle, and also ensuring that those materials are safe from a chemistry perspective,” Perkins says. “This is the foundation of circularity and value retention.”

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