So I finished the book last night, and overall I find it to represent an inspiring, if unfinished, concept. And inspirational is what the book aims for... it certainly doesn't offer many specifics as guide posts for achieving its aims. But these aims are ambitious and involve a lot of deep thinking and restructuring of the manufacturing process to be achievable.
One of their fundamental concepts is expressed as "waste equals food." The idea is that in nature, everything gets fully recycled/consumed as the nutrients/food for the next cycle of growth.
Hmmm, borrowing from Nietzsche's Apollonian/Dionysian dialectic, Camille Paglia, in Sexual Personae, speaks of Man's fear of Nature's amoral consumption/destruction and effervescent growth/birth. In her description, Western culture equates women with Nature, and men created civilization, art, government, technology, as a way to wall off Nature. I have taken the concept as a basis for my understanding of Horror as a literary genre, as expresses in an earlier essay here.
Of course, Paglia was speaking of art, and McDonough and Braungart are focused much more on technology... although, joy, fun, expressions of beauty are added as important values in their conception. Paglia also describes ancient Egypt as having attained the most perfect synthesis of the Apollonian/Dionysian poles, seeing them as unified, rather then as opposites to bounce back and forth between as Western civilization has done.
And something like that is what McDonough and Braungart seem to be seeking.