Designer, author and sustainability thought leader William McDonough announced the formation of a new collaborative project with Waste Management during his plenary at the 2013 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego.  The Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative will focus on sustainable product and packaging design, specifically recyclability as well as the packaging’s impact on environmental and human health.

The new partnership is the perfect example of how companies that think outside the box are the companies that succeed.  Waste Management is bringing its waste stream expertise to the table and with McDonough’s award-winning design and architecture background, the end result will likely be an innovative new approach to sustainable product packaging. 

Packaging is an integral part of the Cradle-to-Cradle design process, something of which McDonough is extremely familiar with.  

"This is a unique new avenue for innovation," McDonough said.  "What we have previously thought of as 'waste streams' can be transformed into positive, safe, healthy resource reuse systems that bring value to their communities in many forms.  This is a key element of the Cradle-to-Cradle vision, which chemist Michael Braungart and I developed: We see resources as nutrients in the biosphere or technosphere.  Once you reframe materials this way, the future of abundance becomes possible."

McDonough envisions the collaboration extending beyond consulting services; new design protocols may be another possible outcome of the partnership. In an interview with’s Joel Makower, McDonough said, “We can imagine putting codes on various kinds of materials that are coming at us, so that we know what they are and how to sort for them. Because we’re optimizing the logistics and reverse logistics, you can put these materials through their various use periods and you have a very rich opportunity to do design optimizations with people who would like to see the kinds of performance that this intelligence can bring into the next century.”

The beauty of this collaboration is that the team isn’t just focusing on the largest manufacturers. The project will serve communities and business of all sizes in multiple industries, perhaps ushering in a new norm of sustainable design and packaging.

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