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4th Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge Winners Re-Think Everyday Products for Circular Economy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A prescription medication bottle, pocket knife, luggage and a solar-powered aluminum casting process have been named winners of the fourth Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has announced.

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.

The winning entries include luggage, a stainless-steel prescription bottle, a pocket knife made with recycled materials, and a solar furnace:

Best Student Project: REX

Mallory Barrett, student at North Carolina State University, envisions an innovative solution to medical packaging waste. In the United States alone, an estimated 4 billion prescriptions are filled, and many curbside recycling programs do not accept pill bottles. 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 currently used 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 Jérémy Godel of 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 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 one hundred 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 Parsons 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.

See the winning design submissions here. 

Global interest from the design community in rethinking products for the circular economy is continuing to escalate, according to Institute President Lewis Perkins, who said the organization received a record number of entries for this recent challenge.

“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,” Perkins said. “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.”

To enter the Challenge, participants must first 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 skills training worldwide, with a special emphasis on engaging and creating access for under-represented and under-served groups.

“Ensuring safe materials can remain in a perpetual cycle of use and reuse is a lynchpin of the circular economy. As we increase the volume of material we reclaim and recycle, resolving the energy impacts associated with those processes becomes the next frontier. Projects such as SolarCasting, winner of the Best Use of Aluminum category, represent an innovative, forward-thinking next step in bringing the circular economy to fruition,” said Suzanne Van de Raadt, vice president, global communications and program development, Arconic Foundation.

“With a rapidly growing population and finite resources, now more than ever, it is necessary for designers and engineers to design for the circular economy, creating a future where we can live well and within the limits of our planet,” said Lynelle Cameron, Senior Director of Autodesk Sustainability and President and CEO of the Autodesk Foundation.  

“Autodesk invests in and supports people who are designing solutions to help address social and environmental challenges, empowering them to make anything, better. Autodesk Fusion 360, a cloud-based platform that facilitates collaboration, analysis and simulation enabled the designers of Leaf Knife, winner of the Best Use of Fusion 360 category, to freely iterate and collaborate in their design process. This resulted in an outstanding technical design, with a deep consideration of circular design from materials and process to end product,” Cameron stated.

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.

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.