Ellen MacArthur hosts first circular economy business summit

The world's leading circular economy experts are convening in London today for the first annual Circular Economy 100 Summit, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The event will bring together thought leaders, businesses, academics and practitioners to scrutinise current thinking on key issues around collaborative consumption, enabling technologies and transformative design.

The Circular Economy 100 was established in February with the aim to bring together blue-chip companies on a pre-competitive dialogue basis to provide a global platform to build circular economy capacity across the wider economy.

Later on today Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, will provide a keynote speech at an Ellen MacArthur Foundation lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London.

The talk will be followed by a panel discussion which will discuss the challenges and opportunities for businesses making the transition to a circular economy.

Panellists include William McDonough, who has just entered into a strategic alliance with a US-based waste management company to rethink design issues around waste, and Professor Walter Stahel who first coined the phrase ‘cradle-to-cradle’.

Yesterday, the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship Programme opened at Imperial College London, a week-long summer school where students and their mentors from leading partner universities will be granted access to leading academics and industry experts in the field.

The programme, a global education initiative created in partnership with the Schmidt Family Foundation, has been created to develop the skills and innovative thinking needed to transition to a circular economy.

The day started with a teardown session in which participants were given the opportunity to disassemble a range of phones from across the years.

Professor David Peck from Delft University of Technology identified a key barrier facing manufacturers who might be considering designing for disassembly.

“There is a tension we identified in why a product design manufacturing company would want to design a product that the user can take apart, repair and refurbish. Aren’t they going to want that revenue generation for themselves?” he questioned.

“So, is it more about individuals being empowered to take things apart or is it about companies having the ability to generate revenue and find new business models that work for them?”

The circular economy is a central strand of our own Resource Revolution. Access all the learning so far from our campaign here

Maxine Perella

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