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Ellen MacArthur launches new circular economy report

Ellen MacArthur has launched her foundation’s latest report at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The circular economy is worth $700bn in savings for the consumer good sector according to the report written by McKinsey & Co.

Consumer goods - textiles, food, beverages, and the packaging they come in - constitute 60% of consumer spending, and 35% of material inputs into the economy.

Significantly, consumer goods takes up 90% of agricultural output, which is projected to be under pressure in the future.

The ’Towards the Circular Economy 2’ report says there is a huge competitive advantage to be gained if businesses switch their business models to maket their material flows more circular. An example highlighted in the report is that electricity and fertiliser generated from food waste could be worth $1.5 billion to the UK each year.

Textiles reuse or remanufacture and reusable glass are also seen as potential cost savings.

Speaking at Davos, Ellen MacArthur told the BBC that companies needed to look beyond resource efficiency to embrace circular systems.

“If you take a circular economy, the first line on the design brief would be we need this washing machine to be designed for dissasembly, we need to be able to recover the parts, we need to be able to upgrade it, we need to be able to take the materials out if it at the end of its life and put them back into the cycle,” she said.

The report follows a previous one on the subject released last year.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report was written with assistance from WRAP.

“Featuring analysis from McKinsey, the report makes the case for a faster adoption of circular economy models, quantifies the economic benefits, and lays out pathways for action,” Liz Goodwin, WRAP’s chief executive has today written on her blog.

WRAP’s vision

WRAP have also published their vision for the circular economy in the UK in 2020 to coincide with the release of MacArthur’s report.

“We believe that in 2020, we could have 30Mt fewer material inputs into our economy; 20% less waste produced (50Mt less waste); and 40Mt more materials recycled back into the economy,” says Goodwin.

Global initiative

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has also announced today their launch of a global initiative for businesses that want to capitalise on the savings opportunities of circular economy strategies. Called the ‘Circular Economy 100’, the project will begin in February and aims to build circular economy capacity worldwide.

MacArthur said: “Due to the exceptional interest we have received from business leaders, and with the encouragement of our Founding Partners, we are launching the Circular Economy 100, which will bring together major companies and accelerate business innovation.”

Stef Kranendijk, chairman of carpet manufacturer Desso, echoed MacArthur’s comments during a World Economic Forum seminar on the circular economy: “We at Desso believe the time is right for an alliance of like-minded businesses to join together in the drive towards the circular economy. This is the best basis for sustainable economic growth in the future.”

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