The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches “Delivering the circular economy – a toolkit for policymakers”

Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation today launches the results of its latest research which provides, for the first time, an actionable toolkit for policymakers who wish to embark on a circular economy transition.

The toolkit complements the recently published report Growth Within: A circular economy vision for a competitive Europe
by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Stiftungsfonds für Umweltökonomie und Nachhaltigkeit (SUN) and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, by offering an actionable ‘how-to’ guide for policymakers inspired by the vision of how the circular economy could look, as explored in the Growth Within report.

Delivering the circular economy – a toolkit for policymakers is the result of a collaboration led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with the Danish Business Authority and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency as key contributors, especially in a pilot study of Denmark. The toolkit was developed in cooperation with Danish and international stakeholders, including leading policymakers, businesses and academics. The McKinsey Center for Business and Environment provided analytical support. NERA Economic Consulting provided support for the macroeconomic and policy analysis. The project was funded by the MAVA Foundation.

The report provides a step-by-step methodology including 11 tools, which aim to:

  • Assess a country’s circular economy starting position, define its ambition level, and select focus areas
  • Systematically screen, sector-by-sector, circular economy opportunities, identify barriers that limit these opportunities and analyse policy options to overcome these barriers
  • Assess economy-wide implications.

The case study of Denmark applies the tools presented in the methodology, and evaluates opportunities in five focus sectors: food and beverage, construction and real estate, machinery, plastic packaging and hospitals. The study demonstrates that even in a country with a starting position as advanced as Denmark, there are significant opportunities to scale up the transition towards the circular economy. Modelling conducted suggests that opportunities identified in these five focus sectors, covering just 25% of the economy, could lead, in Denmark and by 2035, to 0.8–1.4% additional GDP growth, the creation of 7,000–13,000 job equivalents, a 3–7% reduction in carbon footprint, and 5–50% reduction in virgin resource consumption for selected materials.

The report underlines that circular business opportunities are mainly hindered by non-financial barriers and suggests that a sector by sector approach would be the most appropriate to identify the most relevant opportunities, barriers and policy options. Furthermore, system-wide measures, such as broader changes to the fiscal system, could support the transition towards the circular economy.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, commented: “By helping policymakers create the right conditions for circular business opportunities, and to identify clear benefits for their national economies, the toolkit provides a platform for new collaborations between industry and policymakers – building momentum towards the system-level change needed for transition to the circular economy”.

The toolkit has received positive reactions from, amongst others, the London Waste and Recycling Board, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, C2DE, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, the Catalan Ministry for Business and Labour, WRAP, Haarlemmermeer, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, two members of national and regional parliaments, Carlsberg, the Danish Business Authority, and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

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