The New Plastic Economy: Report sets vision for a world without plastic waste

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with World Economic Forum and McKinsey and Company, released a new report today that defines a vision of a world where plastics never become waste.

“The New Plastic Economy” is a visionary report that defines a plan to empower plastic in a sense, by using circular economy principles. Applying circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows could transform the plastics economy and drastically reduce negative externalities such as leakage into oceans, according to a press release about the report.

We are proud affiliates for the foundation’s CE100 program, and are excited to support such a wonderful vision that finds new ways to envision plastic packaging to help protect what nature’s genius has created on Earth. After all, nature is the original circular economy. Biomimicry-based innovations eliminate waste by designing for optimal use of resources and eliminating redundancies.

Download the full New Plastic Economy report


Why focus on plastic? The report lays out a set of astounding findings, including the estimation that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight). The report also found that by 2050 plastics will account for 20 percent of the world’s oil consumption and for 15 percent of the global annual carbon budget. Also consider:

Today, 95 percent of plastic packaging material value or  $80-$120 billion annually is lost to the economy after a short first use. More than 40 years after the launch of the first universal recycling symbol, only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling.

Plastic packaging production has continued to grow in the past decades, and is highly prevalent in the daily lives of millions.

 The report outlines the vision for achieving a new plastic economy with the goals of creating an effective after-use economy, drastically reducing the leakage of plastics in to natural systems, and decoupling plastics from fossil feedstocks. To achieve this, the report recommends the conceptions of an “independent coordinating vehicle,” including input from all major stakeholders.

Linear models of production and consumption are increasingly challenged by the context within which they operate – and this is particularly true for high volume, low value materials such as plastic packaging. By demonstrating how circular economy principles can be applied to global plastic flows, this report provides a model for achieving the systemic shift our economy needs to make in order to work in the long term.”

– Dame Ellen MacArthur, Ellen MacArthur Foundation


▲  Back to Top