Now that down-cycling and recycling have become common industrial processes, I was beginning to think ahead and search the web for clues as to how close we are to creating a Closed Loop Product Cycle?
A Closed Loop Industrial/Product Cycle is where all synthetic materials humans produce remain contained in an industrial-consumer cycle without leaking and contaminating nature.
But the term most often used to describe a Closed Loop Product Cycle is Cradle to Cradle (which apparently comes with a little R at the end)
Because interestingly the Cradle to Cradle model is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) consultants.
The Cradle to Cradle model specifically calls the a Closed Loop Industrial/Product Cycle a “technical nutrient” cycle.
And so I discovered the ideas of William McDonough..I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of him considering I worked at Nike, where the Cradle to Cradle model was sometimes discussed. William McDonough even designed the Nike European HQ which uses an on site wind farm of 6 turbines to supply it’s electricity. And yet I haven’t read his book co-authored with Michael Braungart Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, written way back in 2002. A work which has been hailed as “one of the most important environmental manifestos of our time”. Needless to say that despite some literary isolation from living in Mexico, it’s already next on my reading list thanks to digital downloading.
Enjoy this relatively old, but still very relevant and thought provoking presentation on the subject of Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough. Perspectives that echo mine, or rather mine must echo his as I’ve only recently started writing about ethical and environmental design.
“as designers we realize that design is a signal of intention. But it also has to occur within a world and we have to understand that world in order to imbue our designs with inherent intelligence. So when we look back at the basic state of affairs in which we design we, in a way, need to go to the primordial condition to understand the operating system and the frame conditions of the planet and the exiting part of that is the good news that’s there because the news is the news of abundance and not the news of limits and I think as our culture tortures itself now with tyranies and concerns over limits and fear we can add this other dimension of abundance that is coherent driven by the sun and start to imagine what that would be like to share.” – William McDonough
As designers, is the intention of our design compatible with the long term health of the planet and the society that lives on and off it? Can we design and respect the natural environment?
What are infinitely recyclable thermoplastics? and how do we go about designing for their easier disassembly and recycling?
And if we aren’t able to create a Closed Loop Industrial/Product Cycle as some skeptics claim, with increasing world population and amassing waste, what kind of future awaits us?
“As a species, we are designing our own extinction!” – William McDonough