Blog header reading, "Understanding the Ellen MacArthur Foundation," whose mission is accelerating the world's adoption of a circular economy.

Understanding the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

As we use more and more materials in our products, we are running into an issue- many of these materials are finite. Ellen MacArthur realized this in a profound way and made it her mission to make a difference in the circular economy.

Ellen MacArthur

From a very young age, Ellen was passionate about sailing. She was determined to learn as much about sailing as she could and aspired to sail around the world. In 2005, Ellen MacArthur became the fastest solo sailor to sail around the Earth. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “Spending 71 days alone at sea, confronted by the awesome power and dazzling beauty of nature, Ellen began to ponder the fragility of the systems we’ve built. Her boat was her world and her survival was entirely dependent on the limited food, fuel, and other supplies she’d brought with her. She realized that our global economy is no different – it relies completely on the finite resources we extract, use and then dispose of.” According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “After circling the globe – carrying everything she needed with her – she returned with new insights into the way the world works, as a place of interlocking cycles and finite resources, where the decisions we make today affect what’s left for tomorrow.” Five years later, she decided to set up the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in her name to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

The Circular Economy

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption in which as little waste as possible is created through reusing, refurbishing, sharing, and recycling existing products and materials for as long as possible. The demand for raw materials is increasing along with the global population. But there are only so many of the essential raw ingredients available. So many of the products that we depend on on a daily basis are made of materials that are finite. Oil will likely last up to 50 years, natural gas up to 53 years, and coal up to 114 years. Due to limited resources, many nations like the US and in the EU are reliant on outside nations for their basic commodities. Additionally, raw material extraction and use have a significant negative influence on the environment and it raises CO2 emissions and energy use.  CO2 emissions however, can be reduced by using raw resources more wisely. Waste avoidance, ecodesign, and reuse strategies can reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously saving EU and US businesses money. Currently, 45% of the CO2 emissions come from the manufacture of everyday materials. Reducing environmental stress, enhancing the security of the raw material supply, boosting competitiveness, encouraging innovation, supporting economic growth, and creating jobs are just a few of the advantages that could result from moving toward a more circular economy. Additionally, consumers will receive items that are more inventive and long-lasting, improving their quality of life and long-term financial savings.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. They develop and promote the idea of a circular economy, and work with business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilize system solutions on a global scale. On May 17th, 2017, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit launched a US $2 million prize fund for innovations which works towards the management of waste plastics. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is also a founding member and partner of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy or PACE, which was launched out of the World Economic Forum and aims to enable greater cooperation among public and private sector organizations to close the production-consumption loop. The Plastics Pact Network also connects national and regional initiatives around the world to implement solutions towards a circular economy for plastics. We must involve all system components in order to successfully transition to a circular economy. For this reason, The Ellen MacArthur foundation collaborates with a wide range of entities, including corporations, governments, non-profit organizations, cities, universities, and people with new ideas. They produce materials, books, and tools that support the development of sensible regulations, innovative business practices, and superior product design. The network within EMF brings together top companies in the sector, up-and-coming innovators, regional and local governments, and more. The objectives of EMF include building circular economy capacity, addressing common progress impediments, understanding the essential enabling conditions, and testing out circular economy techniques. Participants in the EMF network get the opportunity to talk to those they normally wouldn’t get the chance to, exchange stories and advice with others, and increase their level of ambition by learning more about what is possible.

The Circular Economy in Practice

The Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) tool enables businesses to determine additional, circular value from their products and materials and to reduce risks associated with material price volatility and material supply. Users of MCI are able to study and assess a variety of environmental, governmental, and supply chain risks for their designs and products thanks to the package’s integration with MI:Product Intelligence. Trayak has also incorporated a material circulatory indicator into EcoImpact-COMPASS to help companies track, weigh, and make decisions on their environmental improvements. Here at Trayak, we provide EcoImpact-COMPASS, our comprehensive LCA software solution which many companies use to improve their package and product sustainability through taking into consideration factors like recyclability, reuse, lightweighting, and changing to materials that have less impact on the environment. Through Trayak, you and your company can practice the concept of the circular economy and create packaging that is reusable, recyclable, and compostable. Trayak has been helping leading brands of all sizes make data-driven sustainability decisions for over 10 years. EcoImpact-COMPASS can track and reduce carbon emissions from packaging and products. If you would like to learn more about our tools and services please contact us.

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