Ellen Macarthur Foundation


The circular economy Wiki

Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.

J M Keynes

Welcome to our Wikispace. One overview and a largely borrowed glossary, five sections with a total of 20 briefings which will be followed by 20 videos and a scattering of workshop ideas for exemplification.

Click here to visit the circular economy Wiki

Each can be a stand alone topic but there are deeper relationships, as befits the notion of relational thinking. The choice of a boundary and these particular categories is not an attempt at a studious comprehensiveness but it is, hopefully, enough of a narrative if read in the round to be of assistance to those interested in the basics of the circular economy.

We wanted to be able to move from the abstract (‘systems thinking’) to the practical outworking (whole systems design) and then through ‘energy and materials’ – as deservedly a pairing as what follows: ‘products and services’ and finally to the great facilitators of human endeavour ‘money..’ and the messaging which is ‘…prices’.

Contributions have been made by a number of authors and each has their own emphasis and boundary in mind. These differences have not been subject to extensive editing and represent what is always the case: variations of interpretation within patterns and themes. As well as rejecting a formulaic approach to the parts there is also an impermanence about them. In any event this is, of course, a wiki and edits and clarifications are most welcome. Updates will be frequent and anyone who feels they have a much better candidate for any section can submit via our proforma.

There are five sections

1) 21st Century Enlightenment – science and systems is the core section made up of

1A Characteristics of linear systems

1B Characteristics of non-linear Systems

1C Inspired by living systems

1D Systems thinking

2) Life, Design, Intention – design inspired by living systems and by intention to be restorative. Rebuilding social, economic and natural capital

2A Biological cycle

2B Technical cycle

2C Cradle to Cradle

2D Whole systems design

3) Energy and Materials flows and how to optimise them

3A Commodities and energy trends

3B Energy and food

3C Smart, distributed energy

3D Resilience vs efficiency

3E Cascading Materials

4) Products and Services examples of business models and realities for a circular economy

4A The power of circles

4B Users not consumers

4C Design for disassembly

4D Financing a circular economy

5) Money and Prices – exchange is facilitated by money and prices are messages to producers, users and consumers

5A Money and stuff

5B Prices and costs, taxes and subsidies

5C Well-being and growth

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The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to document the best circular economy case studies, to inform, inspire and stimulate research.


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The first macroeconomic report series into the size of the prize for business in the transition to a circular economy


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Film clips, publications, colour graphics, presentations…raw material for a range of educational activities.


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