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.
Articles / Blogs
Competing Visions of Sustainability: Scarcity or Abundance?
Bill Sheehan, Ph.D., is Founder, UPSTREAM. This article is from a talk given at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine on September 14, 2015. “Sustainability” has become the master term for...
Extended Producer Responsibility Meets Extended Producer Opportunity
Multiple human-caused threats to the biosphere are the overarching challenge of our time. I’ve written before about the fundamentally different approaches of those who believe that solutions can be achieved within our capitalist economic system (for example, by designing products...
Recycling in the Anthropocene
Recently I’ve been reading salvos in a raging debate about biological and ecological conservation. Traditionally, conservation has largely been about protecting “natural” environments by keeping human presence to a minimum. Now some observers have pointed out that there are...
Sustainability for Whom?
The mission of UPSTREAM (formerly Product Policy Institute) is “sustainable production and consumption and good governance.” Sometimes I feel like we’re swimming against the tide in advocating a role for government action in ensuring sustainable production and consumption. Big...
The “Upstream” Story that Hasn’t Been Told
After ten years as Product Policy Institute we changed our organization’s name to UPSTREAM at the end of 2013. We changed our name to emphasize that critical environmental solutions to reducing environmental impacts of products – manufactured goods and...
Putting Boundries on Selling Stuff
I was asked recently about my “theory of change” in the light of ever-increasing power of corporations that put profits ahead of sustainability of people and the planet. I agree that concentration of corporate power, combined with weakening civic...
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. In
The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises
John Kaufmann, Daniel Lerch, Bill Sheehan, Anthony Perl, William Rees, Tom Whipple, Stephanie Mills, Peter Whybrow, Michael Shuman, David Orr, Cindy Parker, Chris Martenson, Brian Schwartz, Richard Gilbert, Warren Karlenzig, Wes Jackson, David Hughes, Rob Hopkins, David Fridley, Gloria Flora, Joshua Farley, Hillary Brown, Michael Bomford, Asher Miller, Zenobia Barlow, Sandra Postel, Richard Heinberg, Erika Allen, Bill Ryerson