GreenBlue History and Accomplishments

Over the past decade, GreenBlue has grown from a small start-up with a lofty vision to a well respected organization that is guiding the world’s leading companies toward a more sustainable future.

We’ve worked on issues ranging from textiles to cleaning products and packaging to building products. We’ve partnered with hundreds of companies to make products more sustainable—for the earth, for society, and for their own success. Here is our story so far.


GreenBlue is founded by architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart with the initial purpose to promote the implementation of “cradle to cradle®” thinking and design. At the time, the organization is one of the only nonprofits working collaboratively with the private sector to tackle the most pressing sustainability challenges. While McDonough and Braungart are no longer affiliated, we continue to focus on life cycle thinking in the business sector.


GreenBlue develops a detailed online learning course, workshop, and management training seminar inspired by the principles of sustainable design, which is taught to clients including the U.S. Air Force, Interior Design Educators’ Council, NASA, and several Fortune 500 companies.


GreenBlue launches the Sustainable Packaging Coalition® with nine founding member companies and funding from the U.S. EPA.

The winners are announced from GreenBlue’s first eDesign Challenge, a partnership with U.S. EPA to inspire innovation in the electronics industry.

GreenBlue introduces another design competition, C2CHome Competition, to encourage innovative approaches to affordable housing design.


Founders William McDonough and Michael Braungart step down from the Board of Directors as GreenBlue broadens it mission beyond cradle to cradle® thinking.

With support from the Association of Contract Textiles, GreenBlue develops Sustainable Textile Metrics, a comprehensive set of quantifiable sustainability metrics that address the design and manufacture of textiles. The standard that originated at GreenBlue was handed off to NSF International for final development; read more about the final review process and standard.


In partnership with the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment program, GreenBlue launches CleanGredients®, an online chemicals database to help companies identify safer alternatives for use in consumer products. CleanGredients initially focuses on the chemicals used in institutional and industrial cleaning products.


The Sustainable Packaging Coalition expands to over 100 member companies and holds its first international meeting in Brussels.

GreenBlue launches Green2Green, an online catalogue of green building products and materials, with side-by-side comparison of competing products by material health, energy-efficiency, usability, and affordability.


GreenBlue hires its fifteenth employee, nearly doubling its staff size from the previous year.

The California Department of Conservation awards GreenBlue a two-year Closing the Loop project grant to guide the development of more effective material recovery systems through research that connects packaging designers with available recovery options.

GreenBlue launches the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging, a curriculum for packaging and corporate professionals that has since been taught to over 500 individuals.


With funding from the U.S. EPA, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition launches COMPASS® (Comparative Packaging Assessment), a web-based application that compares the human and environmental impacts of packaging designs using a life cycle approach. Over 90 companies globally currently use the tool to guide their packaging programs, including Procter & Gamble, UPS, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, ConAgra, Georgia Pacific and others.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition releases Sustainable Packaging Indicators and Metrics Framework after two years of extensive research, stakeholder engagement, and a comprehensive practices review. The metrics are then used as the basis for the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Packaging Project to develop a globally recognized set of packaging sustainability metrics.

In November 2009, GreenBlue joins forces with the nonprofit organization Metafore, a nonprofit organization that specializes in working with businesses to promote environmentally preferable wood and paper products, by acquiring their programs.


The Board of Directors grows to eleven members.

CleanGredients expands to include household cleaning products and doubles the number of chemical classes in the database.

Building on the work of Metafore, GreenBlue’s new Forest Products program launches the Paper Life Cycle, an online resource that provides an environmental overview of the sourcing, production, use and end-of-life of paper.

COMPASS Version 2.0 is released, allowing users to assess multi-pack packaging scenarios, refill options, and the transportation impacts of packaging.

GreenBlue Advisory Services launches with initial clients such as Cadbury, The Coca-Cola Company, Food and Consumer Products of Canada, J. Crew, Nike, and SC Johnson.

GreenBlue is named one of “10 Green NGOs Businesses Should Know About” by

With the U.S. EPA and Construction Specifications Institute, GreenBlue hosts an organizing meeting for a potential Green Building Products Coalition.


GreenBlue introduces its new mission statement: Make Products More Sustainable.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition holds its largest meeting in its history with well over 300 attendees.

GreenBlue launches an upgraded version of EPAT® (Environmental Paper Assessment Tool) and a Forest Products Working Group, a cross-industry working group of leadership companies to address forest resource challenges and opportunities.

The GreenBlue staff grows to 21.