Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge

Designing for the Circular Economy

Entries for the Design Challenge are no longer being accepted, as the sixth and final round completed January 24, 2018. 

We encourage you to continue your learning journey with us, and practice applying these design principles and approach in your ongoing work! 

About the Challenge
Central to Cradle to Cradle® as a design framework is eliminating the concept of "waste" by designing products using safe materials that can be perpetually cycled. Effectively implementing this design principle can have a significant impact on the environment, communities, and the economy.

This was a series of six global Challenges, which invited designers, sustainability professionals and students to re-envision and redesign products for the circular economy in accordance with the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ product standard – and, where possible, using Cradle to Cradle Certified materials.

More than 150 designers from 17 different countries worked, both independently or collaboratively in teams, to submit 92 entries for this Challenge. Of the participants, 73 percent were design and engineering students, while 27 percent are current and emerging design professionals. More than 600 designers across 30 countries submitted over 550 entries for all six challenges in the series.  

The Challenges were presented by the Institute in collaboration with Autodesk and Arconic Foundation

Required Submission Format

1.1.    Contact Information
Full Name/s
Team Name (if applicable)
School (if enrolled) or Organization (if employed)

1.2.    Submitting Categories:
List the category/ies that apply:
-  Professional – if working in the design field, or similar
- Student – if currently enrolled in an education program
- Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Material – if your design features a C2C Certified material.
- Autodesk Fusion 360 – if you used Fusion 360 to design your product
- Aluminum – if Aluminum is a material utilized in your design

Product Description and Image

2.1.    Product title and description.  A brief but clear description of the problem you're looking to solve, your product and its system. 
2.2.    Image.  Create a top-notch image of your product idea, using whatever means you wish—hand-illustration, CAD rendering, photo of physical model, your choice.  
2.3.    Illustration of the product's system.  Include the stages of its life cycle from raw materials to the user's hand, what's in its next life, and how it gets from this life to the next.

Reutilization Cycle and Business Model

3.0    Reutilization Cycle & Business Model. What happens at the end of the products useful life? How does it get cycled? What infrastructure takes your product from cradle to cradle? Perhaps it's reused in a Product-Service-System, or remanufactured through a company take back program by mail, or biodegrades in municipal composting, etc. What's the business model for your product and its system? Perhaps customers pay for use of the product by the hour, perhaps manufacturing costs are slashed by growing new products from the compost of old ones, etc. 

Tip: For ideas, explore reutilization cycle and circular business model scenarios using the methods from the Circular Design Guide, developed by our friends at Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO. 

Keep your writing short and to the point—more text won't help, succinctness will!

Material Selection

4.1.    Overview.  Briefly describe the homogeneous materials selected for use in the product highlighting performance, durability, and sustainability attributes.
4.2.    Material Reutilization.  Calculate your product’s reutilization score.  How does your product score in the Cradle to Cradle Material Reutilization Equation?  This simple formula combines the percent of recycled or rapidly-renewable material in the product during this life with the percent of material that will be recycled or composted into its next life.  

4.3.    Material Health.  Demonstrate that your product made of healthy materials by listing all homogenous materials in your product and making a note for the safety of each.  For example, "biologically inert" or "food product", or "NFPA health score 0."  Safety notes are more credible when they link to online documentation, such as a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that lists the NFPA health score or describes the material as biologically inert.  You don't need to list every chemical in your product, just list the "homogeneous materials"—a wine bottle might list the bottle, the cap, the label, and the glue, but not each chemical ingredient of the glue.  

4.4 Impact Statement.  State your understanding the role of materials in designing your product for the circular economy.  Why do the materials matter? If you’ve incorporated C2C Certified Materials, note the certification levels in each of the five categories (Material Health, Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy, Water Stewardship, and Social Fairness). How does using materials that have been certified provide benefit and increase the positive impact of your product? 

(Optional) Design with Autodesk’s Fusion 360™.

As part of your design, expand your opportunity by incorporating the use of Fusion 360. Fusion 360 is a 3D CAD/CAM tool for product development. It’s the only cloud-based tool that combines industrial and mechanical design, collaboration, and machining in a single, affordable package.

Include a paragraph that describes the following:

  • Outline how you used sustainable design capabilities of Fusion 360, such as lightweighting, shape optimization or durability, and if / how it aided in developing your  product for positive impact, and the implementation of Cradle to Cradle design principles.
  • Describe what Fusion 360 allowed you to do that you could not have done otherwise
  • Explain why and in which parts of the design you chose to use direct modeling, parametric modeling, or both
  • If this is a group or team project - Describe how you leveraged the collaborative tools in Fusion 360 to produce this design and/or how they might aid in driving innovation for Cradle to Cradle design.

You can download Fusion 360 for free, here, receive a tutorial, and get started with your design.