Michael Braungart born 1958 in Schwäbisch Gmünd is a German chemist who strongly believes that humans can make a positive instead of a negative environmental impact by redesigning industrial production and therefore that over production is not waste. A former Greenpeace activist who once lived in a tree as protest, he is now considered to be a visionary environmental thinker.
Founder of EPEA International Umweltforschung GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, and co-founder of MBDC McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry in Charlottesville, Virginia, Dr. Braungart is currently a professor of Process Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Suderburg (Fachhochschule Nordostniedersachsen), also serving as director of an interdisciplinary materials flow management masters program.
When Braungart is asked why he doesn’t think much of the idea of sustainability this is what he has to say: “The conventional interpretation of sustainability is boring. It’s all about reducing, minimizing, and saving. In other words, do everything the same way as before, just not as badly. Not as badly is not the same as good, however. That’s why I prefer intelligent wastefulness. Instead of developing less damaging things, we should be developing useful things.”
After completing studies in Process Engineering in Darmstadt, Germany, Dr. Braungart went on to investigate the chemical processes of industrial production techniques with the Chemistry Department at Konstanz, Germany. He subsequently led the formation of the Chemistry Section of Greenpeace International. By the time he completed his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Hannover in 1985, he had assumed leadership of Greenpeace Chemistry.
In 1987, Dr. Braungart founded the EPEA Umweltforschung in Hamburg. At the heart of EPEA is Cradle to Cradle Design, to create products oriented toward a life-cycle economy.
Dr. Braungart also works together with American architect and designer William A. McDonough in their product design and development firm, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. In partnership with McDonough, Braungart released the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things in 2002.