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The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Since its creation the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, establishing the circular economy on the agenda of decision makers across business, government and academia. With the support of its Strategic Partners SUN, MAVA, People's Postcode Lottery and The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation, and Partners Arup, Dragon Rouge, IDEO, and SYSTEMIQ, the Foundation’s work focuses on seven interlinking areas: Business, Institutions, Governments and Cities, Insight and Analysis, Systemic Initiatives, Circular Design, Learning, and Communications.

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What is the circular economy?

Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

    1. Design out waste and pollution
    2. Keep products and materials in use
    3. Regenerate natural systems
    What examples exist of the circular economy in practice?

    Circular economy initiatives are already being implemented by very different organisations around the world. Selected references include:

    • Examples from the Foundation’s Strategic Partners of how they are applying circular economy principles - see Google, Renault, and other examples on our Strategic Partner pages.
    • The New Plastics Economy initiative, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is creating a plastics system based on circular economy principles, in which plastics never become waste.
    • Our circular economy case studies library contains a selection of best practice examples intended to inform, inspire and stimulate research.
    • Visit our circular economy news portal, Circulate, for news and analysis of how organisations are implementing circular business models, and related topics.
    Where can I find the latest circular economy news and analysis?

    Visit Circulate, for news and thought-leadership on the circular economy.

    Why did Ellen set up the Ellen MacArthur Foundation?

    Learn what triggered Ellen's exploration of the circular economy and led to the launch of her Foundation in 2010, by watching Ellen MacArthur's TED conference talk.

    Where can I find Ellen MacArthur’s biography?

    Ellen MacArthur’s short biography below is suitable for media articles. If you need additional details, please contact us.

    Dame Ellen MacArthur made yachting history in 2005, when she became the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe. She remains the UK’s most successful offshore racer ever, having won the Ostar, the Route du Rhum, and finished second in the Vendée Globe. She received the French Legion of Honour from President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, three years after having been knighted by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

    Having become acutely aware of the finite nature of the resources on which our linear economy relies, she retired from professional sailing to launch the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010. The Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, and has helped establish the subject on the agenda of decision makers around the world. Since the publication of its first economic report in 2012, the Foundation has launched global initiatives on plastics, fashion and food, developed innovation networks with educators, businesses, and governments, and released more than 20 reports and books. Dame Ellen is a World Economic Forum Global Agenda Trustee for Environment and Natural Resource Security and Board Member of its Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, and she sat on the European Commission’s Resource Efficiency Platform between 2012 and 2014.

    Can I use the Ellen MacArthur Foundation logo?

    Please contact us if you would like to use the Ellen MacArthur Foundation logo, stating the name of your media platform and the purpose for which the logo would be used.

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