The Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Products Innovation Institute has revealed the winners of the latest Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge. This is the final competition in a series of six global challenges, in which designers, sustainability professionals and students re-envision and redesign products for the circular economy in accordance with the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard — and, where possible, using C2C Certified materials.
The Challenges are presented by the Institute in collaboration with Autodesk and Arconic Foundation, More than 550 entries from over 600 designers across 30 countries have participated in the series. This year’s winning innovations include non-toxic batteries, toys that promote housing and functional furniture.
Volta employs non-toxic materials — including C2C Certified Ingeo Biopolymer — in a battery that can be recharged in a bath of table salt and vinegar — or remanufactured, composted and recycled. Volta’s fastener-free, pill-form design make it easy to change parts, remove components from battery casing and disassemble for reuse and recovery. Volta was selected as Best Overall Project for its innovative use of safe, healthy materials and design-for-disassembly-approach in addressing the highly hazardous, global problem of disposable batteries.
Selected for its vision and thoughtful design focused on engaging the next generation to learn circular design in buildings by doing, House 4 House’s mission is to educate children about sustainability through house building kits, which in turn help to build a real house for every toy house sold. Inspired by different ways of building from across the world, House 4 House challenges the typical pitched roof doll’s house design and allows children to explore their creative potential. Made with C2C Certified materials, including Accoya® Wood, Alcoa Aluminum, Nispen Corrugated Packaging and Porotherm Bricks, each kit includes building supplies, characters, furniture and guides for constructing a miniature house. When it’s time for a change, the starch-based mortar is simply washed off and the materials can be used again.
Blending form with purposeful function, the TO Stool was recognized for its elegant design and the clever use of perforated aluminum, which is shipped flat then folded into the final stool by the user (considerably reducing packaging and manufacturing energy and costs). The stool aims to adjust throwaway habits by encouraging and facilitating the diversion of used textiles into circular lifecycle streams. TO features a removable bag under the seat to create a dedicated area within the home for storing textiles intended for donation or recycling. Once full, the bag can be easily transported to donation facilities. At the end of the stool’s useful life, the aluminum frame can easily be disassembled and infinitely recycled, while the renewable wood base can be repurposed or composted along with the accompanying textile bag.
Chosen for its brilliant use of Fusion 360’s simulation capabilities to both ideate and render the design, Bench32 is inspired by the imperative weight reduction in airplane construction. The repetition of 32 wooden spars forms the seating surface, which is held together by 80 metal parts. Reusing parts multiple times and aligning the elements with ample negative space creates a lightweight appearance that results in an extremely sturdy yet lightweight bench comprised of FSC-certified wood or C2C Certified Accoya Wood.
“Inspired by the methodology of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard, these designers have created innovative products and furnishings that demonstrate the way good design can allow for abundance, endless reuse and pleasure — eliminating the need to think in terms of waste or contamination while simultaneously propagating a Cradle to Cradle economy,” said Dr. Michael Braungart, co-founder of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute; co-author of Cradle to Cradle and The Upcycle; and founder and Scientific CEO of EPEA International Umweltforschung GmbH, an international environmental research and consulting institute headquartered in Hamburg.
Designers of the winning projects will receive expert commentary and design critique from Braungart to support their continued work.
“As the trajectory of our global population, along with the volume of resources needed to sustain us escalates, there has never been a more pivotal time to apply the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard as a means of creating and verifying products for the growing circular economy,” said Lewis Perkins, President of the Institute. “The designers who participated in this Challenge — and the winning projects — reflect a keen awareness of the need to employ safe, healthy materials in the innovation of products that contribute to an economy driven by regenerative design.”
To enter the Challenge, participants were required to complete a free two-hour online course, “Designing 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 sustainable design and manufacturing skills training worldwide, with special emphasis on engaging and creating access for underrepresented and underserved groups.