Organic Consumers Association

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New Project to Make 11 Islands Waste-Free

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Eleven North Sea islands have signed up to become living laboratories for a waste-free environment.

The islands from six countries will follow a "cradle-to-cradle" philosophy, which calls for using renewable energy and products made from materials that can be endlessly reused or organically decomposed.

Innovations will include electric vehicles, a desalination system for drinking water that removes salt in a usable form, and purification of household water – including human waste.

"The islands will be a catalyst for innovation for the whole region," German chemist Michael Braungart said at the unveiling of the project late Wednesday.

Technical universities from around northern Europe will try out new solutions for small-scale energy production, transportation and water management, with the aim of making the islands nearly self-sustaining by 2030, project managers said.

The EU is donating euro3.5 million ($4.5 million) for the first four-year phase. Islands from Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Britain will take part. The Cradle to Cradle Island project will be overseen by officials of the northern Dutch province of Friesland.

The islands have a total of nearly 50,000 residents, but most of them swell with visitors during the summer. Some of the islands see the project as a way of attracting more tourists.

The concept originated in the 1970s, but was popularized with a 2002 book by Braungart and American architect William McDonough, "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things."

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