Ellen MacArthur becomes the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe

’Sailing around the world against the clock in 2004, I had with me the absolute minimum of resources in order to be as light, hence as fast, as possible. At sea, what you have is all you have, stopping en route to restock is not an option and careful resource management can be a matter of life or death – running out of energy to power the autopilot means you can be upside down in seconds. My boat was my world, I was constantly aware of its supplies limits and when I stepped back ashore, I began to see that our world was not any different. I had become acutely aware of the true meaning of word ‘finite’, and when I applied it to resources in the global economy, I realised there were some big challenges ahead.’

- Ellen MacArthur



Ellen MacArthur travels the world on her journey of learning

The next four years sees Ellen meeting with experts across a variety of countries, economies and industries to better understand our global approach to the way the economy uses resources.



The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is launched

The coherence of the circular economy framework and its perceived potential as a genuine economic paradigm shift convinces B&Q, BT/Cisco (working together), National Grid and Renault to become Founding Partners of the Foundation.

‘You really learn a lot through conversations with CEOs, senior managers, board members and experts. When we questioned the model there wasn’t an answer – though there was a huge curiosity. Our Founding Partners came on board before we had undertaken any economic analysis and were instrumental in powering the work of the Foundation, and testing the model at scale, for the next three years.’

- Ellen MacArthur



Project Redesign: Taking the circular economy into schools

Across the UK, 150 students from 24 schools take part in five hands-on workshops on the circular economy. The launch of Project ReDesign challenged students to re-think whether our current waste problem is in fact a materials opportunity, by exploring the possibilities of a systems level re-design. The winning groups went on to take part in week-long internships with our Founding Partners in July 2011.


<p><strong>Release of our animation: ‘Re-thinking Progress: the </strong><strong>circular economy’</strong>

Release of our animation: ‘Re-thinking Progress: the circular economy’

The Foundation releases this fun, three-minute animation on the circular economy model. The video was watched 80,000 times in the first week, and remains YouTube’s most viewed video on the circular economy.

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Launch of the first economic report into the circular economy

“Towards the circular economy”, the first ever economic report examining the potential of the circular model, is published by the Foundation, with analysis by its knowledge partner McKinsey & Company. Launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the report quantifies the $630bn value of the circular economy opportunity in Europe. Ellen appears on BBC World live from Davos to share the report findings.


The European Commission adopts a manifesto

The manifesto states that ‘In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the EU has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy’. Ellen is invited by the EU Commissioner Janez Potočnik to work alongside the European Resource Efficiency Platform.



Launch of the second economic report – global findings

The Foundation returns to Davos the following year with another report that scales up its analysis and looks at the global opportunity for fast moving sectors of the economy. The presence of circular economy sessions at Davos 2013 has already increased five-fold since the launch of the first report the year before.

‘The more analysis we carried out with McKinsey, the more it showed that the economic benefit in shifting towards that model was huge.’

- Ellen MacArthur


The Circular Economy 100 launches

With an exceptional response from businesses wanting to understand how to unlock the opportunities outlined in the reports, the Circular Economy 100 is born. This alliance of 100 global corporations, emerging innovators and regions works towards building circular economy capability, triggering over $10billion of economic benefit for the members involved and working to bring the concept to scale.


The Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowships is created

The Foundation teams up with the Schmidt Family Foundation to launch the first global postgraduate fellowship programme in the circular economy. The programme works with Partner Universities including Yale University, Stanford University, London Business School, India’s National Institute of Design and many more of the world’s leading universities, to catalyse circular economy innovation.

University of Bradford school of management

The world's first circular economy MBA is launched

The MBA is created in partnership between the Foundation and Bradford University School of Management.

“Today’s economic conditions, characterised by increased price volatility and scarcity on the energy and resources fronts, require a change in perspective. We believe that an innovative approach, which integrates systems thinking and looks beyond the linear ‘take, make, dispose’ model, is the answer that a forward-looking School of Management should strive to provide. We have designed our circular economy MBA to give the next generation of leaders a first-mover advantage, by tackling subjects such as regenerative product design, new business models, reverse logistics or enabling communication technologies, to name but a few elements.”

- Professor Peter Hopkinson, Bradford School of Management


Largest gathering of circular economy experts

The first Circular Economy 100 summit takes place at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Speakers included renowned thought leaders including Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, William McDonough, Janine Benyus, Jeremy Oppenheim, Rachel Botsman and Eric Schmidt – making it the largest gathering of circular economy experts to date.


Philips is announced as a new Global Partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Philip's mission is to pioneer circular economy innovation in the areas of healthcare, consumer lifestyle and lighting.

Ellen MacArthur becomes a full member of the Club of Rome

The Club of Rome was founded in 1968 as an informal association of independent leading personalities from politics, business and science, men and women who are long-term thinkers interested in contributing in a systemic interdisciplinary and holistic manner to a better world.


UK as pioneer in circular economy education

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reaches its target of 2,200 schools in the UK actively using circular economy educational resources and professional training (over 50% of all UK schools). The UK becomes the most advanced practice space for piloting circular economy teaching and learning.

UN Global Compact, Accenture CEO Survey 2013

A report from Accenture suggests that the circular economy framework is gaining momentum in leading businesses:

‘Absent almost entirely from our conversations in 2010, the concept of the circular economy has taken quick hold among CEOs focused on innovation and the potential of new business models. Already, a third of CEOs in this year’s survey report that they are actively seeking to employ circular economy models.’


<p><strong>Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship Wildcard</strong>

Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship Wildcard

An addition to the Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship, the Wild Card Competition is opened to postgraduate students studying design, business or engineering and their faculty mentors from any university in the world to innovate for a circular economy. The winner joins 14 other students from leading universities including MIT, Yale University, Stanford University, Tongji University, National Institute of Design, India and London Business School.

<p><strong>CE100 Annual Summit 2014</strong>

CE100 Annual Summit 2014

The second Circular Economy 100 Annual Summit is held in London.

Ali Velshi of Al Jazeera America facilitated the day, which was split into three sessions on leading company innovations for a circular economy, big issues and opportunities such as finance, energy, water and Asia, and future design and manufacturing.

When we hosted the first summit one year ago, we were still very much setting the framework of the circular economy, bringing together the thought leaders and sharing ideas. Within twelve months, in many cases, we have moved to sharing best practice. I think that’s a very positive jump to make and is what the entire Circular Economy 100 is all about.

- Ellen MacArthur


Publication of A New Dynamic: effective business in a circular economy

A New Dynamic makes the contemporary case for a profound shift from throughput and a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy to a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative.

Featuring some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field including Walter Stahel, Michael Braungart and Amory Lovins, the volume offers a comprehensive overview of the model, business case studies, the performance economy, history and development and the entrepreneurial opportunities of these fluid times.


Unilever becomes a Global Partner

Unilever joins Cisco, Kingfisher, Philips and Renault as the latest Global Partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The partnership will focus on supporting Unilever as a pathfinder in unlocking the value of the circular economy within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, has long viewed the circular economy model as a key opportunity for business development. In his foreword which opened the Foundation’s second economic report he stated:

'The concept of a circular economy promises a way out. Here products do not quickly become waste, but are reused to extract their maximum value before safely and productively returning to the biosphere. Most importantly for business leaders, such an economy can deliver growth. Innovative product designers and business leaders are already venturing into this space.'

- Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever


Launch of Project MainStream

Following the release of Towards the Circular Economy vol.3, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company, launched Project Mainstream.

Project MainStream is a multi-industry, CEO-led global initiative to accelerate business-driven innovation and help scale the circular economy. MainStream aims to fast-track this transition by taking collaboration to a new level, focussing on stalemates that individual organisations cannot resolve.


The first Re-thinking Progress event

Re-thinking Progress: Educating for a changing world is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s first ever education open-house event in partnership with Bradford University’s centre for the circular economy.

Over three days experts, academics and thought leaders from around the world present at the University of Bradford’s re:centre both in person and via telepresence.

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Andrew Morlet becomes CEO of the Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announces Andrew Morlet as its new Chief Executive Officer.

“I am honoured to have been appointed CEO by the Board of Trustees and I am looking forward to maintaining the speed and quality of achievement that has been evident under Jamie Butterworth's leadership over the past four years. Jamie leaves a great team and a clear framework for driving the circular economy forward”

<p><strong>Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF) launches</strong>

Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF) launches

In October 2014, the Foundation hosts the first online Disruptive Innovation Festival. The DIF is an open access event that invites thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses, designers, makers and learners to explore the question “the economy is changing - what do I need to know, experience and do?”.

The DIF is a devolved event, with more than 200 sessions on subjects like biomimicry, the sharing economy and internet of things taking place over a three-week period around the world; coordinated and accessible on thinkdif.co. Sessions are held across six virtual ‘stages’, ranging from the thought-leading Headline Acts to the Open Mic stage, composed of completely crowdsourced content.

DIF 2014 saw over 225 hours of free sessions, 10,000 registered attendees and 950,000 website impressions from 170 countries.



Ellen MacArthur presents at TED 2015

Ellen MacArthur presents on the circular economy at TED2015 in Vancouver, Canada. The annual conference focuses on the theme of ‘Truth and Dare’ to find a richer understanding of ideas that will shape our future. Ellen shares her journey and insights on the circular economy in ‘Endgame’, the closing session of the conference.

The video of Ellen’s presentation was released later in the year, and gained half a million views in the first week.


Launch of Circulate News

The Foundation launches Circulate, a new online hub for news, editorial and insight on the circular economy and related subjects.

Circulate is the go-to location for circular economy related news and insight, with fortnightly featured articles, regular updates from a team of international correspondents, daily news pieces and our recommended reading from other writers and publications.

<p><strong>CE100 Annual Summit 2015</strong>

CE100 Annual Summit 2015

The Circular Economy 100 (CE100) Annual Summit returns for its third year, with presentations from Jim Andrew of Philips, Estelle Brachlianoff (Veolia), Robin Chase (Buzzcar), Kathryn Garcia (New York City) and many more.


Growth Within Report outlines a development path for Europe

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, and SUN (Stiftungsfonds für Umweltökonomie und Nachhaltigkeit), present the results of a major new study at the European Commission’s stakeholder conference on the circular economy in Brussels on 25 June.

Growth Within: A circular economy vision for a competitive Europe reveals that by adopting circular economy principles, Europe can take advantage of the impending technology revolution to create a net benefit of €1.8 trillion by 2030, or €0.9 trillion more than in the current linear development path. This would be accompanied by better societal outcomes including an increase of €3,000 in household income, a reduction in the cost of time lost to congestion by 16%, and a halving of carbon dioxide emissions compared with current levels.


A Toolkit for Policymakers is published

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation 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 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.


New book The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows

In ‘The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows’, published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Ken Webster argues that our linear ‘take-make and dispose’ economy is a 19th century heritage adrift in the 21st century reality. The time is right to move towards a circular economy – a regenerative model based around feedback-rich flows allied to new business models.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announces Google as a Global Partner

Google becomes a Global Partner

Google becomes the Foundation's latest Global Partner accelerating the transition to the circular economy.

The partnership recognises Google’s commitment to developing innovative, market-leading circular economy initiatives at scale alongside the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s five existing Global Partners: Cisco, Kingfisher, Philips, Renault and Unilever.

“Google’s ambition to lead the way on the circular economy represents a step-change opportunity – we are thrilled to be working closely together with such a visionary, innovative and transformational partner on this journey”.

- Ellen MacArthur

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CE100 Brasil launches

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's key Circular Economy 100 programme expands internationally, with the launch of CE100 Brasil at the headquarters of Natura, near São Paulo.

The CE100 Brasil is tailored to organisations for which opportunities lie primarily in the Brazilian market, and builds on the successful format of the international CE100 programme.


Disruptive Innovation Festival 2015 goes live

The Disruptive Innovation Festival 2015 broadcasts its first live streamed sessions at thinkdif.co. The Festival runs from 2-20 November with over 200 contributions from around the world, showcasing the people and innovations changing 'business as usual' in their fields.


H&M becomes a Global Partner

H&M becomes the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's latest Global Partner accelerating the transition to the circular economy.

The partnership builds on H&M’s commitment to demonstrating circular innovation within a key economic sector. As one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, H&M has the potential to fundamentally shift the extent to which the clothing sector restores and regenerates fabrics and fibres for productive use.

"Operating in a key sector of the global economy, H&M’s vision for applying circular models represents a significant opportunity to scale up the transition. We are delighted to be working with H&M to build momentum towards the system shift that our economy needs to work in the long term."

- Ellen MacArthur


Intesa Sanpaolo becomes a Global Partner

Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaolo becomes the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's latest Global Partner accelerating the transition to the circular economy.

In its role as a Global Partner, Intesa Sanpaolo will help to redefine business strategies to capture new opportunities, and will ensure financial support for investments used to re-design the industrial system.

"Difficult access to finance is consistently quoted among the barriers that entrepreneurs wishing to innovate with circular models find themselves up against. By recognising there is a new economy emerging and by creating tools to help it, Intesa Sanpaolo actively contributes to the transition and takes a leading role in this new world of opportunities."

- Ellen MacArthur



IDEO becomes the Foundation's Design Partner

The Foundation signs a new Design Partner agreement with global innovation and design firm, IDEO. IDEO, led by its London studio, will work closely with the Foundation to apply design thinking and expertise to help capture opportunities presented by the circular economy.


The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics report is launched at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos

The report provides, for the first time, a vision for a global economy in which plastics never become waste. It was produced under the umbrella of Project MainStream, a CEO-led collaboration between the World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and McKinsey & Company.


Intelligent Assets: Unlocking the circular economy report is launched in collaboration with the World Economic Forum

The Foundations latest report, produced as part of the Project MainStream collaboration with the World Economic Forum, finds that pairing circular economy principles with the information generated by intelligent devices creates a fertile ground for innovation that could enable the decoupling of value creation from the consumption of finite resources.

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CE100 USA launches

The Foundation announces the creation of its Circular Economy 100 USA (CE100 USA) programme, and holds its inaugural workshop in March 2016 in San Francisco. SunPower, Tarkett and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. join the CE100 USA network at launch. 


New book 'A New Dynamic 2: Effective systems in a circular economy' is launched

The second book in the 'A New Dynamic' series, A New Dynamic 2: Effective systems in a circular economy, reflects on the necessity to develop a whole-system approach to re-think our economy.


NIKE, Inc. becomes a Global Partner

NIKE, Inc., the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories, becomes the latest Global Partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, demonstrating the company’s commitment to become a key player in the network of organisations supporting the transition to the circular economy.

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SUN becomes a Core Philanthropic Partner

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation welcomes Stiftungsfonds für Umweltökonomie und Nachhaltigkeit GmbH (Foundation for Environmental Economics and Sustainability), or SUN, as its first Core Philanthropic Partner.

New Plastics Economy

New Plastics Economy initiative launches

The New Plastics Economy, an ambitious, three-year initiative to build momentum towards a global plastics system that works in the long term, launches. Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the initiative brings together more than 40 leading businesses and cities to re-think and re-design the future of plastics, starting with packaging,

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Arup announced as Knowledge Partner for the Built Environment

A Knowledge Partnership with leading design and engineering firm, Arup, is announced at the Foundation's CE100 Annual Summit in London.