William McDonough

Photograph of William McDonough

Chief Executive, McDonough Innovation

William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. He co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002), widely recognized as a seminal text of the circular economy design movement, and its follow up, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance (2013).

He advises world leaders through McDonough Innovation and leads the architectural firm William McDonough + Partners as well as MBDC, developers and assessors of products for Cradle to Cradle Certification™. He co-founded the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in 2009 and currently works with companies on reusable, recyclable, compostable and recoverable packaging. He also co-founded Fashion for Good, a joint-industry initiative aiming to transform the global apparel chain into a force for good.

McDonough was the inaugural chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy and has served on Global Agenda Councils such as Sustainable Construction (Chair), Design, Cities, and Natural Environment and Resource Security.

He has been teaching at Stanford University since 2004 and previously was the A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University (1999-2004) and Dean of the School of Architecture and the Edward E. Elson Endowed Chair at the University of Virginia (1994-1999).

McDonough received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development (1996), the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003), and the National Design Award. He received the 2017 Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership in Davos. Time magazine recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet,” noting: “His utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world.”

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