Project MainStream

January 24, 2014

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, even working with their own partners and supply chains. MainStream is expected to gather commitment from key stakeholders, establish proof of concept of the economic and environmental benefits of a circular economy through targeted programmes, and reach tipping points that will accelerate the transition, thereby establishing the circular economy as the new norm. This could help businesses and cities save US$ 500 million in materials and prevent 100 million tonnes of waste globally.

Who's involved?

Project MainStream is driven by business, hosted by the World Economic Forum. Currently, 11 of the world’s top companies are on the project’s steering board and play a leading role in driving the project’s content: Brambles, Brightstar, BT, Desso, Royal DSM, Ecolab, Indorama, Kingfisher, Philips, Suez Environnement and Veolia. Awareness of MainStream continues to grow, with new companies, as well as cities, joining as participants.

Flagship delivery projects

1.Global Plastic Packaging Roadmap
The Global Plastic Packaging Roadmap will be the go-to guide for designing plastic packaging, and city waste systems, for the circular economy. It will be developed by a group of leading consumer goods companies and cities, declaring commitment in growing numbers at the Davos summits in 2015 and 2016. The roadmap will cover a broad range of needs and starting points, allowing widespread participation while enabling convergence towards circular flows of plastic packaging materials. It will create opportunities for innovation throughout the plastics value chain. It will allow cities to efficiently reduce landfill and litter, while realising revenue from plastics sold for re-use, and providing consumer-goods companies with lower cost sources of quality plastic materials. For all participants the roadmap will create a reputational opportunity in addressing the major visible challenges of plastic waste – litter, ocean contamination etc.

2.Eco-Design (starting with paper)
Product design for circularity is a focal issue for enabling a circular economy. Ensuring the usage of re-usable and pure materials is a key, so is limiting the chemical additives and ink used on materials, finished product and packaging. The eco-design project aims to start with paper, one of the most well-recycled products in the world, to achieve proof of concept on establishing eco-design rules with approaches that can be replicated in other industries. The project plans to create a virtuous cycle that leverages private enterprise participation and commitment to change to accelerate the adoption of eco-design related policies and regulations around the world.

3.Asset Tracking
This project will seek to overcome the circularity stalemate of information gaps that prevent better decisions on what to do with a product when a (first) user is finished with it. Creating proof points and a toolkit, the project will entice and guide companies to deploy appropriate levels of asset tracking to maximize the value they, their customers, and/or third party providers can recover from products at the end of first and subsequent uses. The pilot will investigate and address the following topics: participation incentives for supply chain and product owners/users; information architecture, management, and governance; technology choices; and the drivers for end-of-use decisions. This will focus on OEMs and brand owners, reverse logistics providers, financial players, asset managers, technology players, and academia. Toolkit and guidance will be applicable to a broad range of enterprise and consumer assets, and supported by pilots for products as diverse as small household appliances and medical devices.

Watch the Press Conference

For further information

Please contact: Sandy Rodger;

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