Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan is a policy expert and big picture thinker who has been at the forefront of two U.S. sustainability movements – Zero Waste and Extended Producer Responsibility – over the past two decades.  Bill helped launch and lead the civic movement for Zero Waste as co-founder and Executive Director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network between 1995 and 2003. Then Bill co-founded UPSTREAM (formally Product Policy Institute), a national solutions-oriented policy and strategy think tank working to advance sustainability, end plastic pollution and reduce climate disruption through product-focused environmental policies.  He served as Executive Director until July 2015 and still advises the organization.  At UPSTREAM, Bill worked with local governments, communities and NGOs to bring Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies to the US to spur green product design through corporate accountability. This work resulted in the formation of local government Product Stewardship Councils in California, New York, Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  Bill holds a Ph.D. in insect ecology from Cornell University, he is also a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.

Competing Visions of Sustainability: Scarcity or Abundance?

In this essay I explore how assumptions of nature’s Scarcity and Abundance underlie our visions of sustainability, and our prescriptions for action.

November 23, 2015

Recycling in the Anthropocene

Individualized recycling is a start but it is not doing nearly enough.

March 13, 2015


Sustainability for Whom?

Is eco-business leading us to ecological sustainability?

March 5, 2015

The “Upstream” Story that Hasn’t Been Told

We changed our name to emphasize that critical environmental solutions to reducing environmental impacts of products – manufactured goods and food – lie “upstream” of consumers, before purchase.

September 11, 2014

Putting Boundaries on Selling Stuff

My theory of change is that governments are essential to controlling corporate power and that government is strengthened by civic rather than consumer action.

January 7, 2014

Waste: Climate change, peak oil, and the end of waste

We in rich contries have almost lost the ability to supply our own needs through local manufacturing and agriculture–or even to extend the life of products through reuse, repair and repurposing.  We rely on others, and on a system lubricated by cheap oil, to meet our needs as well as our wants.

September 28, 2010

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