Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Registered Charity
Industry Circular economy
Founded 23 June 2009
Founder Dame Ellen MacArthur, Chair of Trustees
Philip Sellwood, Trustee
Peter Morgan, Trustee
Headquarters Cowes, United Kingdom
Area served
Key people
Andrew Morlet, Chief Executive Officer
Website Official Website

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a registered charity[1] with the aim of inspiring a generation to re-think, re-design & build a positive future through the framework of a circular economy.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was established in September 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to a regenerative, circular economy. The idea of a circular economy synthesised a number of existing strands of work and specifically enabled the analysis and communication of its broad economic potential. The Foundation, as part of its educational mission, works to bring together complementary schools of thought and create a coherent framework, thus giving the concept a wide exposure and appeal.


It was founded on 23 June 2009 and was publicly launched on 2 September 2010, by Dame Ellen MacArthur at the National Science Museum. The Foundation was launched with the support of a group of 'Founding Partners', B&Q, BT, Cisco, National Grid and Renault[2] The charity was inspired by MacArthur's sailing experiences[2][3] and she put £500,000 of her own money into the project. £6 million was also raised by the five founding partners.

Focus Areas[edit]

The Foundation focuses its activities in three areas:.

Thought leadership - The opportunity for a re-design revolution

The Foundation works to strengthen and communicate the ideas and opportunities around a circular economy, publishing a variety of materials (reports, case studies, educational resources) as well as using creative and social media. It believes that focusing on designing a restorative model for the future offers a unique opportunity to engage an entire generation when fused with the ability to transfer knowledge, co-create ideas and connect people. Relying on a network of international experts including key circular economy thinkers and leading academics, the Foundation strives to reinforce the framework’s coherence as well as continue to develop it whilst making it available to key target audiences - educational institutions, business, and the public sector.

Education - Inspiring a generation to re-think the future

Science, technology, engineering, maths and design (STEM) are subjects that will be at the heart of any transition to a circular economy. Equally crucial will be the development of ‘systems thinking’—the skill of understanding how individual activities interact within a bigger, interconnected world. The Foundation has built a portfolio of stimulus resources to help develop these skills, supporting teachers and establishing a network of education delivery partners to enable scalable training and mentoring. A parallel development programme for Higher Education has been established with a focus on supporting global business, design and engineering institutions and linking them to best-practice business case studies around the world.

Business - Catalysing businesses innovation

From its launch in September 2010, the Foundation has placed an importance on the real-world relevance of its activities. As such the Foundation believes that business innovation sits at the heart of any transition to the circular economy.

The Foundation currently works with a group of Global Partners (Cisco, Kingfisher, Philips, Renault and Unilever) as well as members of the Circular Economy 100 - a programme for businesses, emerging innovators, regions and universities, established by the Foundation - to embed circular economy thinking throughout the economy.

Project Re-Design[edit]

Project Re-Design was a series of educational workshops, competitions and internships held up and down the country, to promote the circular economy, for 16- to 18-year-olds and they were hands-on, free workshops that were to promote how we think about our future and how we use materials, how things should be 'made to be made again'.[4] During the day, students were challenged to rethink and redesign how products are made and used and also how our world may work in the future. The winners then went into internships to meet with several of the co-founding companies of the Foundation to try to learn and redesign one of their products, to be sustainable. These companies were Cisco,[5] National Grid,[6] Renault[7] and BT.[8] They discussed with the business how the circular economy could be achieved in these four different companies.

Towards the Circular Economy[edit]

In January 2012, a report was released entitled Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. The report, commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and developed by McKinsey & Company, was the first of its kind to consider the economic and business opportunity for the transition to a restorative, circular model. Using product case studies and economy-wide analysis, the report details the potential for significant benefits across the EU. It argues that a subset of the EU manufacturing sector could realise net materials cost savings worth up to $630 billion p.a. towards 2025—stimulating economic activity in the areas of product development, remanufacturing and refurbishment.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Charity Commission. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, registered charity no. 1130306. 
  2. ^ a b "Interview: Ellen MacArthur - Voyage of self-discovery". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Top yachtswoman Ellen teams up with university to promote sustainable living". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Ellen MacArthur Foundation's YouTube Channel". Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Project ReDesign Cisco Internship". Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Project ReDesign National Grid Internship - The Future of Energy". Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Project ReDesign Renault Internship - The Future of Mobility". Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Project ReDesign BT Internship". Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Towards the Circular Economy report". Towards the Circular Economy report. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 

External links[edit]