Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk Announce Winners of Fall 2015 Product Design Challenge

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Awards recognize innovative product designs that eliminate the concept of waste and fuel the circular economy.

The Product Design Challenge returns January 15 to welcome new submissions from students and young professionals. To learn more about how to participate, visit

Designing for a world facing finite resources and a growing population requires enterprising and intrepid designers, and it's exciting to see these young designers rise to the challenge.

A panel of industry experts have selected winners for the second Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge. The winning submissions celebrate Cradle to Cradle® design for the circular economy and highlight safe materials that can be perpetually cycled and are designed with thoughtful use and reuse scenarios.

Presented by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design software, the bi-annual event recognizes emerging designers for participation in the design-led revolution toward a circular economy. Designers are required to take the free 2-hour, online course "Designing Cradle to Cradle Certified Products for the Circular Economy" to participate in the challenge. The course was made possible by Alcoa Foundation and developed in collaboration with Autodesk. The Foundation’s focus areas include finding solutions to improve the environment through sustainable design, making Alcoa Foundation a valuable partner for the course in providing practical instruction for product designers as they thoughtfully consider Cradle to Cradle design principles to move toward a circular economy.

“The Design Challenge is a powerful demonstration of designing with intention to ensure materials in manufactured products retain their value and can be perpetually upcycled,” said Institute Interim President Lewis Perkins. “This year’s winners each exemplify the quest for material health and reuse, and they have brought us one step closer to the goal of a circular market standard.”

The design challenge winners are recognized in four categories: Best Student Project, Best Professional Project, Best Use of Aluminum, and Best Use of Autodesk Fusion 360. Winners have been awarded a US$2,000 cash prize for their ingenuity.

●    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.

Unique to this challenge, the newly added category of Best Use of Aluminum recognizes the ultimate value of using aluminum in the product design cycle and aims to award such designers who optimize its use. Aluminum can be 100% recycled and used over and over again with no loss in quality. The process for extraction also requires fewer resources to recycle aluminum from aluminum over aluminum from ore. Meurs says by utilizing recycled aluminum material, almost 95% less energy is required than by producing new material and the AtoB Seat could subsequently reduce the amount of waste in the industry.

‘We’re thrilled to support a certification program and design challenge that motivates the next generation of designers to incorporate sustainable practices,” said Alice Truscott, Program Manager, Alcoa Foundation. “The new Best Use of Aluminum category is such an important addition to the program, and we congratulate the winner, Michiel Meurs. All of the creative ways in which the infinite recyclability of aluminum is featured in these innovative designs have been inspiring.”

The design challenge attracted participants from 18 countries, including India, Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the United States. Product entries were from diverse sectors, including the built environment, packaging, retail furniture, consumer goods, and more. Of the entries submitted, 32 percent utilized 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.

"Designing for a world facing finite resources and a growing population requires enterprising and intrepid designers, and it's exciting to see these young designers rise to the challenge," said Lynelle Cameron, senior director, Autodesk sustainability and foundation. "We congratulate them on creating bold new approaches to how we design and make things. The latest C2C challenge presented creative yet practical solutions to the planet's resource scarcity and provided inspiration for what the future holds."

Awarded for Best Use of the Autodesk Fusion 360, the Engineers for a Sustainable World RIT Chapter will also receive one full pass to Autodesk University and a $1,000 travel stipend, in addition to the cash prize.

The submissions were reviewed through three rounds of judging, which singled out 11 finalists who were then evaluated by industry experts, including Mike Alcazaren, Application Engineer at Autodesk; Sunand Bhattacharya, Global Education Strategist at Autodesk; Rie Norregaard, Creative Director, Brand Strategy at nanit; and Hasso Weiland, Technical Fellow, Breakthrough Technologies at Alcoa.

The bi-annual Product Design Challenge is an ongoing tool for educators, coinciding with fall and spring semesters as an optional curriculum supplement. The challenge returns this Friday, January 15, 2016 to welcome new submissions from students and young professionals. To learn more about how to participate, visit For more information on the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products and certification, visit


About Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to turn the making of things into a positive force for people, the economy, and the planet. It administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Program, a guidance-system for assessing and continually improving products based upon five sustainability characteristics: material health, material reuse, renewable energy, water stewardship, and social fairness. The Institute is headquartered in San Francisco with satellite offices in Amsterdam, NL, Venlo, NL and Raleigh, NC.

Cradle to Cradle® is a registered trademark that is owned and licensed by MBDC.
Cradle to Cradle Certified™ is a certification mark licensed exclusively to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
Autodesk and the Autodesk logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

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