DIF Podcast Safe & Circular by Design: Making Positive Material Choices

  • Speakers:
  • Marisa Guber, William McDonough, Matteo Kausch, Stacy Glass, Annie Gullingsrud

Topics relevant to the session

  • Details About the session
  • Speakers Info about who's talking

What materials should we use to create things?

Circular design encourages us to rethink business models, how we make products, and to consider the system surrounding them, but we also need to think about the materials we use. Whether it’s improving the safety of users or ensuring that resources can be used again and again - it is clear that materials matter.

Not all materials are fit for a circular economy. Some contain chemicals that are hazardous for humans or the environment. Additives are often unintentionally used or used for performance reasons - such as colouring, flexibility, or durability - but there are ways to design them out. If you can choose materials that are safe and circular, you can build a better offering for your users, while ensuring that the products and services you create fit within a circular economy

In this podcast, we will be unravelling - together with the experts from Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation - what every designer needs to know about the safety of materials for circular product design.

This session is part of the Safe & Circular Advanced Methods on the Circular Design Guide.

Complete list of speakers:

William McDonough, Principal, McDonough Innovation

Tamara Zwart, Director of Textiles / Apparel & Stakeholder Engagement, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

Matteo Kausch, Director of Technical Development, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

Stacy Glass, Director, MaterialWise

Marisa Guber, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

Annie Gullingsrud, Fashion Positive Plus Membership Lead and Consultant

Simon Widmer, Circular Design Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Emma Fromberg, Informal Education Programme Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation


Marisa Guber

Marisa Guber

Stakeholder Engagement Manager @ Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

Marisa Guber leads the education and engagement initiatives at Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute to support manufacturers and designers in applying the principles of Cradle to Cradle Certified to their work through continuing education and virtual and in-person events. She guides the development of content, and is instrumental in the evolution of the Institute’s strategy, activities, and partnerships.

William McDonough

William McDonough

Principal, McDonough Innovation

A globally recognised leader in sustainable design, William McDonough advises world leaders through his company McDonough Innovation and leads the architectural firm William McDonough + Partners as well as MBDC, developers and assessors of products for Cradle to Cradle Certification™. McDonough has written and lectured extensively on design as the first signal of human intention. He co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and the follow up, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance (2013).

Matteo Kausch

Matteo Kausch

Director of Technical Development, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

Dr. Matteo Kausch is an environmental scientist thriving on the interface between business and environmental decision making. As Director of Technical Development, Matteo oversees the audit process of product assessments for certification, as well as the development of tools, collaborations, and processes to improve the certification program. He also chairs the Material Health advisory groups during the ongoing standard revision. Prior to joining the institute, Matteo was part of a consulting engagement by the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry with Hewlett-Packard (HP). His team analyzed the public health and environmental impacts of electronic waste recycling in developing countries and developed methods to identify chemicals of high concern, informing HP’s material selection process.

As a graduate student researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, Matteo studied the environmental chemistry of selenium, as well as the policy and management of agricultural contamination in California. In this context, he has presented at international scientific conferences and published papers in high-impact academic journals. Matteo has taught several courses in Environmental Science and Biology at Berkeley. He is a citizen of both Germany and Italy, with a broad array of language skills and international experience.

Matteo holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley as well as a B.Sc. in Geosciences and Astrophysics from the Jacobs University Bremen, Germany.

Stacy Glass

Stacy Glass

Director, MaterialWise

When she joined the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute in 2011, she knew that she was becoming part of an important movement. What she could not have envisioned was just how far-reaching the scope of work would become and how safer chemistry would become central to the circular economy.

This evolution highlighted a clear and specific need to create better, more accessible material health knowledge for designers and manufacturers across all industries. In 2017, the MaterialWise team began working on a new initiative called MaterialWise, to expand access to verified chemical hazard information as an accelerator for positive design.

In 2018, she and MaterialWise are engaged in a proof-of-concept pilot alongside partners from Target, Google, Nike, Levis, Method, Steelcase, Environmental Defense Fund, C&A Foundation, and more.

To lead this innovative project, she draws from 25 years of experience encompassing management consulting, high growth start-ups, public-private partnerships, and an MBA from Duke University.

Annie Gullingsrud

Annie Gullingsrud

Fashion Positive Plus Membership Lead and Consultant

Annie Gullingsrud is a circular fashion design and strategy consultant, and during her tenure at Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute as the Director of the Fashion Positive Initiative, developed and launched the Plus membership, a group of brands committed to the identification, use and development of circular materials - using the verification of Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold Level. In her advancement of circular fashion she has worked as sustainability director, consultant, writer and designer, for organizations such as Gap Inc., Future Tech Lab, Eon Group, and Pratibha Syntex factory in India. Annie has also provided sustainability education to companies through the Swedish fashion and textile organization TEKO and Council of Fashion Designers of America, and currently works as an Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts. Annie is the author of Fashion Fibers: Designing for Sustainability, released in early 2017 by Bloomsbury New York.


Emma Fromberg

Emma Fromberg

Informal Education Manager @ Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Emma is the Foundation's Informal Learning Programme Manager. She imparts her DIF wisdom on the team, alongside working on a project on safe and circular materials.

Simon Widmer

Simon Widmer

Circular Design Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Simon is project manager of the circular design programme. His mission is to support the creators and shapers of products, services and systems for the circular economy. Simon believes in the creative power of designers and their ability to shape everything around us. He has led the development of the Circular Design Guide in collaboration with IDEO. Previously Simon has been a project manager in the New Plastics Economy initiative and the report Rethinking the future of plastics.

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