The former sailor who is leading on the global business case for regenerative systems change has revealed that her own think tank, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), has been approached by numerous companies, organisations and countries seeking to learn more about this transition.

Speaking at Chatham House, an independent policy institute in London recently, MacArthur said that over the past two years, the circular economy had “taken off”.

“When we launched [in 2010], it was something not really heard of, but the idea works – people are coming to us, it’s about economically-driven opportunity,” she said, adding that people were “fascinated” by the concept.

“We’ve been approached by so many businesses, many of whom are already in this space, but also many who aren’t. In developing countries there is an opportunity to leapfrog our linear system and in developed countries, we have an opportunity to unlock more growth,” MacArthur told delegates.

In response to this, in February EMF launched the Circular Economy 100 – an alliance of 100 business leaders looking to accelerate this agenda. MacArthur said that 23 companies were already on-board and that this was “accelerating quickly”.

On a global level, the circular economy is also gaining traction. MacArthur, who has attended the World Economic Forum annual meeting for the past two years said that this year the event staged four separate meetings on the topic, whereas in 2012 there were none.

Acknowledging that the transition towards a circular economy represented a massive challenge, she pointed to the internet and social media as being a key enabler to help fuel this shift.

“If ever there is a time we can redesign our future and change the global economy it is now because anyone can have an idea and it can literally be halfway across the world in seconds.”

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Maxine Perella

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