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.


Business frontrunners call for strengthened Circular Economy Package with economic incentives

Last 21st May a coalition of business associations, representing thousands of businesses, called for a strengthened Circular Economy Package, based on political leadership and ambitious policies on waste prevention. The broadly supported manifesto serves as input from a frontrunners’ business perspective on the renewed Circular Economy Package, based on the obstacles for circular business as experienced by companies. The circular economy holds the promise of 2 million new jobs, estimated net savings EU-wide for businesses up to 600 billions of euros, and hundreds of millions of tonnes of avoided waste.


Strong government policies to mainstream circular business are crucial to reap the benefits of a circular economy. This requires leadership and investments in circular innovation beyond traditional measures. The manifesto calls for the EU and member states to act as launching customer by widespread implementation of green public procurement. In addition, the coalition calls for targets for maintenance, repair, reuse, refurbishment and cascading next to the existing ones for landfill and recycling, as well as flexible competition policy and the foundation of a European Institute for Circular Economy. Finally, the manifesto recommends a Circular Frontrunners Programme as well as sectoral and cross-sectoral programmes.

 Economic incentives

In order to reach the targets, we ask for economic incentives to create framework conditions for companies to implement circular business models. Fiscal incentives are crucial to stimulate consumers to buy circular products and services. This can be achieved by adjusting European VAT regulations to allow for VAT rate differentiation on the basis of circularity. This is important to stimulate consumers to buy circular products and services. In addition, improved extended producer responsibility schemes can reward producers of circular products with lower costs, while providing considerable funds for investing in improved waste management.  The manifesto also recommends tax breaks for externally audited integrated reporting.

Expand existing measures

The coalition is in favour of expanding the Ecodesign Directive into a directive for Circular Design. In addition, the manifesto calls for continuing calls for proposals in the field of circular economy in Horizon 2020 and the Eco-Innovation Programme, including calls for economic mechanism design.

Broad support

The manifesto of the Dutch Sustainable Business Association De Groene Zaak, MVO Nederland and Circle Economy has been signed by, Entreprendre Vert, EcoPreneur, Green Alliance, GreenBudgetEurope, INDR, the Institut de l’Economie Circulaire, Plan C and UnternehmensGrün, which together represent thousands of frontrunning businesses throughout Europe. It also contains supportive statements from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), ACR+ and the Dutch Society for the Protection of Nature and Environment (Natuur & Milieu) and quotes from several businesses.

Feasibility Study of the “Ocean Cleanup Array” concept

The research described in this feasibility study concludes that The Ocean Cleanup Array is likely a feasible and viable method to remove large amounts of plastic pollution from the North Pacific Gyre. Computer simulations have shown that floating barriers are suitable to capture and concentrate most of this plastic. Combined with ocean currents models to determine how much plastic would encounter the structure, a combined cleanup efficiency of 42% of all plastic within the North Pacific gyre can be achieved using a 100 km array. In collaboration with offshore experts, it has been determined that this array can be made and installed using current materials and technologies. The estimated costs are in total of 317 million euro, or 31.7 million euro per year. This translates to 4.53 euro per collected kg of ocean trash.

Full report: