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Steelcase subsidiary Designtex wanted to make an ecologically safe fabric and hired environmental designers McDonough and Braungart to tackle the effort. Highlights of the project:
-- 60 chemical companies were invited to join the project. All declined except for one, Ciba-Geigy.
-- Ciba-Geigy's 4,500 dye formulas were evaluated for heavy metals, toxins, and carcinogens.
-- 16 passed the test--enough to make the fabric.
-- Under the new manufacturing process, which turns the textile mill into a water filter, the effluent is safe enough to drink.
-- Fabric trimmings, which before were labeled hazardous waste, are now used as mulch.
-- McDonough and Braungart are opening the new manufacturing secrets to any company that wants them.
Data: Susan Lyons, William McDonough & Partners, and Michael Braungart