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.


G7 Science Academies’ Statement 2015: Future of the Ocean: Impact of Human Activities on Marine Systems

Human activities are driving major changes in the oceans of the world. One key driver of changes is elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere caused by human activities. This leads to ocean acidification, warming and de-oxygenation, changes in ocean circulation, continued sea level rise, and an altered marine productivity and biodiversity. Other key drivers are pollution with nutrients, chemicals and plastic, overfishing and spreading of invasive species. All of the changes in the ocean have profound effects on human wellbeing and human societies in many regions of the Earth.

The G7 Academies of Sciences call for: (1) changing the course of nations’ CO2 emissions, (2) reducing and further regulating man-made pollution of the sea, (3) ending overfishing and preserving marine biodiversity and ecosystem function through research-based management and (4) enhancing international scientific cooperation to better predict, manage and mitigate future changes in the ocean, and their impacts on human societies and the environment.

Among the proposed actions, marine litter is included as:

Halt the dumping and regulate the discharge of waste and toxic materials. Take urgent action to reduce the input of plastic debris from all sources into the marine system.

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Ocean Experts Call for Greater Local Government Role in Fight Against Marine Waste Fresh Strategies to tackle Pollution, Plastics and Climate Impacts to be Included in New Plan to Manage the World’s Seas

Source: MAP

Athens, 1 October 2014 – Leading scientists and policymakers meeting in Athens this week acknowledged that marine litter remained a “tremendous challenge” in almost all regions of the world, with significant socio-economic consequences and clear impacts on marine ecosystems.

The three-day 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans was held amid growing concern worldwide about the threat that widespread plastic waste poses to marine life, with conservative estimates of overall financial damage of plastic to marine ecosystems standing at US$13 billion each year. Participating experts recommended a three-tier approach to marine litter, saying that the problem needed to be tackled – not just at the regional and national levels – butat themunicipal level, because in most cases it is municipalities that have responsibility for solid-waste management.

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Plastic waste: Parliament sounds the alarm

The most hazardous plastics and certain plastic bags should be banned by 2020, as part of an EU strategy to reduce plastic waste in the environment, says the European Parliament in a resolution voted on Tuesday. The EU should also introduce binding plastic waste recycling targets, MEPs add.

The resolution, a call for action further to a European Commission green paper, was passed by a show of hands. In it, MEPs stress that plastic waste is damaging the environment due both to weak enforcement of EU legislation on waste and to the lack of specific EU laws on plastic wastes, despite their particularities.

See the European Parliament resolution of 14 January 2014 on a European strategy
on plastic waste in the environment (2013/2113(INI))

Mediterranean is the first to adopt a Regional Action Plan for the management of marine litter

Source: UNEP/MAP

The Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention discussed and adopted the Istanbul Declaration, and 17 decisions, during their 18th Meeting, held in Turkey, in December 2013.

Among these decisions, is the adoption of the Regional Action Plan on the management of marine litter in the Mediterranean, the first European regional effort to follow up on the Rio+20 summit global commitment to reduce marine debris by 2025.

Reducing ship generated marine litter

Source: IEEP

Marine litter is an increasing threat to the health of European and global marine ecosystems, with costly environmental, economic and social consequences. One source of this pollution is ships which illegally discharge their waste into the sea.

The Port Reception Facilities (PRF) Directive requires ships to discharge their waste to dedicated port reception facilities in the EU. Since it came into force in 2002 there has been an increase in waste delivery to Member State ports, but illegal discharges at sea of ship generated waste still take place. IEEP and Port Environment were commissioned by the NGO Seas At Risk to produce recommendations for the Directive’s upcoming revision based on an analysis of its implementation.

A critical aspect driving the effectiveness of the Directive is how ship operators are charged for discharging waste in a port, but there is much variability across Europe. An indirect fee system has been implemented in Baltic ports whereby the cost of delivering waste to port is included in the overall port fee paid by all visiting ships (rather than having an additional fee for waste). It has been shown to reduce illegal discharges of oily waste significantly, and there is every reason to believe it has had the same effect on illegal solid waste dumping. It is therefore recommended that a similar system be implemented for the whole of Europe, which would remove to the greatest extent possible any disincentives to delivering waste to ports. Such a system would require mandatory waste delivery at port and payment of an indirect fee for port facilities irrespective of the quantities and types of waste delivered.

Download publication:

Reducing ship generated marine litter – recommendations to improve the PRF Directive

HELCOM Ministerial declaration addresses marine litter

Last week the HELCOM Ministerial meeting took place in Copenhagen. The final declaration text can be found here:

The text addresses marine litter as if follows, recognizing the Technical Subgroup:

Declaration of the Ministers of the Environment of the Baltic Coastal Countries and the EU Environment Commissioner, HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration 2013

VIII. BEING SERIOUSLY CONCERNED about the growing evidence of harmful effects of marine litter on wildlife and habitats and on marine biodiversity and the environment with a dominance of plastics of different sizes (ranging from macro- to microparticles);

IX. WE AGREE to prevent and reduce marine litter from land- and sea-based sources, causing harmful impacts on coastal and marine habitats and species, and negative impacts on various economic sectors, such as fisheries, shipping or tourism, and to this end DECIDE to develop a regional action plan by 2015 at the latest with the aim of achieving a significant quantitative reduction of marine litter by 2025, compared to 2015, and to prevent harm to the coastal and marine environment;

Marine litter

24 (B). WE AGREE that the regional action plan on marine litter should allow to:

– carry out concrete measures for prevention and reduction of marine litter from its main sources with the aim of achieving significant quantitative reductions focusing inter alia on working with industry to reduce or phase out microbeads in certain products in the market

– develop and test technology for removal of microplastics and nanoparticles in municipal waste water treatment plants by 2020 and inter alia work with industry to ban the use of microplastics and on the assessment of the use of nanoparticles within the production process (e.g. in cosmetics);

– utilize existing networks to address marine litter issues;

– develop common indicators and associated targets related to quantities, composition, sources and pathway of marine litter, including riverine inputs, in order to gain information on long-term trends, and carry out the monitoring of the progress towards achieving the agreed goals and to gain an inventory of marine litter in the Baltic Sea as well as scientific sound evaluation of its sources. Where possible, the harmonized monitoring protocols based on the recommendations of the EU Technical Subgroup on Marine Litter will be used;

– identify the socio-economic and biological impacts of marine litter, also in terms of toxicity of litter;

– review regularly the effectiveness of the measures, for the first time by 2020;