The Foundation was established by Ellen MacArthur in 2010, with the sole purpose to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, to change the global economy from one with a ‘take, make, waste’ approach to one that is restorative and regenerative by design.
It is based on three principles:
The circular economy
Looking beyond the current take-make-waste industrial model, the circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and, designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.
Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits. It offers a strong innovation and competitiveness strategy fit for the long term.
By helping deepen understanding of the economic rationale for a circular economy through quantitative analysis and insight, and by engaging with both the private and the public sectors to accelerate its adoption at scale, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to play a key role in the transition towards a regenerative global economy that is distributed, diverse and inclusive. In support of these objectives, the Foundation has imagined unique business programmes to drive action towards the transition.
The Circular Economy 100 programme is a pre-competitive innovation network established to enable organisations to develop new opportunities and realise their circular economy ambitions faster. It brings together corporates, governments and cities, academic institutions, emerging innovators and affiliates in a unique multi-stakeholder platform. Specially developed and curated elements help members learn, build capacity, network, and collaborate with key organisations around the circular economy and their own value chain. A significant proportion of CE100 members regularly renew their third years membership, for some for the third time in a row, demonstrating the value of this network activities.
In 2018/2019, the CE100 programme comprised more than 60 corporate and government/city members and about 40 emerging innovators, universities and affiliates. In recent years, the Government and City members network has expanded notably, showing a growing interest in circular economy solutions from the public sector.
The CE100 activities comprise four acceleration workshop a year, an Annual Summit that convene the most prominent thinkers on circular economy topics, but also access to e-learning portal and to collaborative projects co-created by CE100 members and that aim to overcome challenges and explore opportunities relating to the transition to a circular economy.
The Foundation works on a strategic level with influential businesses across key sectors of the economy to demonstrate circular innovation at scale. These Global Partners Danone, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, Nike, Philips, Renault, SC Johnson, Solvay, and Unilever are pathfinders within their respective industries, exploring the potential of the circular economy as a source of value creation.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has seen an increased level of ambition within this group of businesses which have company-wide circular economy targets. It has provided input into the sustainability strategies of a number of business partners, co-authored exploration papers and co-developed circular assessment tools that are now in implementation phases.
The charity’s Systemic Initiatives aim to accelerate the global transition towards a circular economy by applying circular principles to key material streams. Most of the materials used in the current economy are under-utilised and lost after short-term use, and efforts to fix this often only treat the symptoms rather than the cause. By fundamentally rethinking industrial systems, there is an enormous opportunity to generate economic, environmental, and societal benefits. Working with businesses, governments, philanthropists, innovators, and NGOs, Systemic Initiatives aim to spark unprecedented levels of cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation to move towards a circular economy in each focus material stream.
The New Plastics Economy Initiative (NPEC) launched in 2016 brings together key stakeholders to rethink and redesign the future of plastics, starting with packaging.
Plastics are fundamental to our everyday life. Yet they are one of the most wasteful examples of our existing linear, take-make-dispose economy. With 8 million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean each year and the menacing perspective of cumulating more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, we urgently need to rethink the way we make, use, and reuse plastics.
In October 2018, the Foundation announced NPEC Global Commitment to create a new coalition of businesses and governments united behind a set of circular economy commitments tackling plastics waste at its source. The Global Commitment already unites more than 350 organisations on its common vision of a circular economy for plastics, keeping plastics in the economy and out of the ocean. Credibility and transparency are ensured by setting clear minimum level of ambition for signatories, common definitions, and reporting on progress.
In November 2017 the Foundation published a research outlining the case for fundamental change in the textiles system, with particular emphasis on the fashion and apparel sectors. This report, A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future, was launched in London by the chair and Stella McCartney and has been mobilised through the Foundation’s second Systemic Initiative, Make Fashion Circular. Its ambition is to help the fashion industry ensure clothes are made from safe and renewable materials and investigate new business models that increase their use and turn old clothes into new.
One of the Foundation latest report, Cities and Circular Economy for Food, was launched in January 2019, at the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos. It considers the benefits of building a circular economy for food in cities, by sourcing food grown regeneratively, and locally where appropriate, making the most of food and its by-products and designing healthier food products.
Circular economy in cities
In 2019, inspired by the Foundation’s networks and the growing interest and opportunities for circular economy to take shape in cities, the Foundation released a resources suite covering a wide range of circular economy opportunities in three key urban systems – buildings, mobility, and products. Alongside these, the resources suite looks at how urban policymakers can enable the transition to a circular economy, identifying different policy levers that can be used to embed and nurture the practice. A rich offering of case study examples, from businesses and cities are captured across the resources to inspire learnings from the opportunities and best practice.
For more information about the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the transition to a circular economy, visit the website.
respACT veranstaltete in Kooperation mit Circular Futures ein Business Breakfast zu Kreislaufwirtschaft in Wien. ExpertInnen der Ellen MacArthur präsentierten ihre Einblicke den teilnehmenden UnternehmerInnen sowie VerteterInnen der Wissenschaft und NGOs. Lesen Sie mehr hier