Dr. 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. This experience convinced Bill that traditional local government systems for managing manufactured discards were insufficient for eliminating waste; Zero Waste will require fundamental changes in how products and packaging are designed and managed. To this end, Bill co-founded and leads UPSTREAM (formally Product Policy Institute), which has been the leading public interest organization working to bring comprehensive Extended Producer Responsibility for products and packaging to the United States. Bill helped local government officials form independent Product Stewardship Councils to work for state-level EPR legislation in California, New York, Texas, Minnesota, Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He is currently working on building broader coalitions for state-by-state EPR legislation for packaging. Bill holds a Ph.D. in ecology from Cornell University and held a research position at the University of California at Berkeley before turning to sustainable materials management.