The Circular Economy: Dame Ellen MacArthur

Key concepts:

• Solo sailing champion Dame Ellen MacArthur commits to change the world
• Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the New Circular Economy
• $2 Million Design Competition to keep plastics out of the ocean
• 2050 plastics industry estimated at 20% of all oil production
• most plastic = single use: 95% economic value, up to $120 billion annually = lost

On May 18, 2017 Dame Ellen MacArthur announced a $2 Million Plastic Innovation Prize to keep plastic out of our oceans, jointly sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with the Prince of Wales’ Sustainability Unit and funded by philanthropist Wendy Schmidt.

The day after setting a world speed record in her solo sail around the world, Ellen MacArthur was named Dame Ellen MacArthur of the British Empire, the youngest person ever to be named to that title. She is still racing full speed around the world, no longer as a solo sailor but growing a collaborative intelligence network to keep plastic out of our oceans.

EllenMacArthur3-750She founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010 to support developing a “circular economy” that promotes renewable energy and waste reduction over the consumption of finite resources. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works in Education & Training, Business & Government, Insight & Analysis, Systemic Initiatives and Communications to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Foundation has prepared Circularity Indicators Toolkits and a series of publications for educators.

In her TED talk, she tells her story. The person with the courage to sail solo around the globe, set a world record, withstand a near collision with a whale, and the other risks of the open ocean, is also the person to take on a mammoth global challenge – her joint venture with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit to launch a $2 million design competition to keep plastics out of the ocean, which we anticipate will trigger a wave of supporting activities.

The New Plastics Economy

The New Plastics Economy report also projected that by 2050 the plastics industry would consume 20% of all oil production. Because most plastic is used only once, 95% of its economic value, worth up to $120 billion annually, is lost.

The chart below visualizes the tradeoffs between resilience and efficiency and suggests that a range of tradeoffs could be visualized and studied in this way.

Related Topics:  Saving Our Oceans from Plastic



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