Ellen MacArthur outlines business case for circular economy

Former sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur has spoken of how careful resource management was "a matter of life or death" when sailing around the world and led her on a new path to promote more sustainable thinking.

In an exclusive interview with edie, MacArthur talked at length about the work her new foundation has been involved in on working towards a circular economy – and how designing out waste is central to achieving this.

The foundation released a detailed blueprint last month setting out the economic and business rationale for a resource-efficient future. Speaking about the report, MacArthur argued there were both “immediate and long-term benefits to be achieved by moving away from linear consumption”.

“The idea is to make sure everything fits in a materials cycle – this includes designing for disassembly and refurbishment, avoiding materials contamination and enabling materials identification,” she said.

According to MacArthur, there is an urgent need for new business models, where consumers would evolve into users and “only buy the performance, or service, not the products themselves”.

She added: “Manufacturers retain ownership of their equipment, which makes sense for them in a context of rising materials scarcity and prices, so their interest is to build their products with durability in mind.

“The user then benefits from a high-quality service at a more affordable price than in the linear model.”

The full interview with Ellen MacArthur can be accessed here

Maxine Perella

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie