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Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches circular economy toolkit

Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches circular economy toolkit

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has released ‘Delivering the Circular Economy’, an actionable toolkit for policymakers wishing to make a transition to the circular economy.

The toolkit complements the foundation’s recent ‘Growth Within: A circular economy vision for a competitive Europe’ report, which explores how the circular economy could look, with a ‘how-to’ guide for policymakers aiming to embark on the circular economic model described in the earlier report.

Funding was provided by the Swiss philanthropic institution, the MAVA Foundation, and the report includes contributions from the Danish Business Authority and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Analytical support was provided by the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment and NERA Economic Consulting.

In addition to explaining ‘Why the circular economy matters’, the report includes a case study of the toolkit in action in Denmark, and 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 for circular economy opportunities, identify barriers that limit these opportunities and analyse policy options to overcome these barriers; and
  • assess economy-wide implications.

‘Building momentum’ needed for the circular economy

Releasing the report, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Dame Ellen MacArthur said: “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.”

Methodology to accelerate the transition

1. Starting point, ambition and focus

The report highlights the need to engage key stakeholders such as businesses, policymakers, citizens, academics and environmental organisations from the beginning of any project.

Current levels of circularity, according to the report, must then be assessed using a range of metrics including: resource productivity; circular activities; waste generation; and energy and greenhouse gas emissions. A thorough understanding of the contemporary policy landscape, and a quantifiable level of ambition, will aid the identification of policy interventions for different regional and societal contexts.

2. Assessing sector opportunities

Once a sector has been selected, the foundation advises assessing it so that an understanding of the potential economic impacts, barriers to realisation and avenues to overcome these barriers can be identified.

According to the toolkit, mapping each sector in this manner facilitates the recognition of a wide-range of potential circular economy opportunities and their potential for further development, which can subsequently be detailed and prioritised based on their feasibility and impact.

The study highlights a range of methods for effectively assessing the potential economic and resource impact of a particular opportunity such as the scalability of a project and the rate at which it could be adopted.

3. Analysing economy-wide implications

After sector-specific circular opportunities have been identified, the report suggests they should be taken as a whole, to assess the potential national implications.

Examining the potential impact on gross domestic product (GDP), employment figures, net exports and carbon emissions will facilitate the creation of a quantifiable impact that will provide a roadmap for implementing sector-specific policy packages and economy-wide policy options.

The study acknowledges that its proposed methodology will require customisation depending on specific macroeconomic and circularity starting points, such as the strength of institutions, availability or resources and support for circularity in the economy.

Read the full report.  

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