Ellen McArther Foundation

Design out waste, keep products and materials in use.  Regenerate as natural systems do.

Mission and Vision

Accelerating the transition to a circular economy

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation develops and promotes the idea of a circular economy. They work with, and inspire, business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale, globally.

Our vision is a new economic system that delivers better outcomes for people and the environment. Business models, products, and materials are designed to increase use and reuse, replicating the balance of the natural world, where nothing becomes waste and everything has value. A circular economy, increasingly built on renewable energy and materials, is distributed, diverse, and inclusive.


Developing the vision, skills and mindsets needed to transition to a circular economy

The Foundation emphasises interdisciplinary, project-based and participatory approaches, encompassing both formal education and informal learning. With a focus on online platforms, the Foundation provides insights and resources to support learning about the circular economy, and the systems thinking required to accelerate a transition.

Our formal education work includes Higher Education programmes with partners in Europe, the US, India, China, and South America, international curriculum development with schools and colleges, and corporate capacity building. Our informal learning work includes the development of the Circular Design Guide in collaboration with IDEO, and our regular live online events.


Catalysing circular innovation and creating the conditions for it to reach scale

Since its launch, the Foundation has emphasised the real-world relevance of the circular economy framework, recognising that business innovation sits at the heart of economic transitions. The Foundation works with its Strategic Partners and Partners to develop scalable circular business initiatives and to address challenges to implementing them.

Our Network brings together industry leading corporations, emerging innovators, affiliate networks, government authorities, regions and cities, to build circular capacity, address common barriers to progress, understand the necessary enabling conditions, and pilot circular practices, in a collaborative, pre-competitive environment.

Institutions, Governments and Cities

Creating the enabling conditions for a circular economy to thrive

To complement its strong business engagement effort, the Foundation works with governments and institutions, from municipal to international, with the aim of informing policymakers and supporting public-private co-creation mechanisms.

Institutions, Governments & Cities can create the right enabling conditions for circular economy activity to thrive, set direction where appropriate, and be drivers of innovation and investment in a circular economy. From international institutions that set the global agenda to municipal entities that deliver change at the local level, the Foundation aims to engage stakeholders at all scales – from inspiration to implementation.

Insight and Analysis

Providing robust evidence about the benefits and implications of the transition

The Foundation works to quantify the economic potential of the circular model and develop approaches for capturing this value. Our insight and analysis feeds into a growing body of economic reports highlighting the rationale for an accelerated transition towards the circular economy, and exploring the potential benefits across stakeholders and sectors.


The circular economy is an evolving framework, and the Foundation continues to widen its understanding by working with international experts, key thinkers and leading academics.

Systemic Initiatives

Transforming key material flows to scale the circular economy globally

Taking a global, cross-sectoral approach to material flows, the Foundation is bringing together organisations from across value chains to tackle systemic stalemates that organisations cannot overcome in isolation.

Plastics was identified through initial work by the Foundation with the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company as one of the value chains most representative of the current linear model, and is therefore the focus of the Foundation’s first Systemic Initiative. Applying the principles of the circular economy, the New Plastics Economy initiative, launched in May 2016, brings together key stakeholders to re-think and re-design the future of plastics, starting with packaging. Building on the success of this first Systemic Initiative, textile fibres became the Foundation’s second material stream focus, with the launch in May 2017 of Make Fashion Circular.


Engaging a global audience around the circular economy

The Foundation communicates cutting edge ideas and insight through its circular economy research reportscase studies and books. Through digital media it reaches audiences who can accelerate the transition, globally. The Foundation aggregates, curates, and makes knowledge accessible through Circulate, an online information source dedicated to providing unique insight on the circular economy and related subjects.


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Ellen MacArthur Foundation