The New Plastics Economy

The New Plastics Economy is an ambitious, three-year initiative to build momentum towards a plastics system that works. Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is applying the principles of the circular economy and brings together key stakeholders to rethink and redesign the future of plastics, starting with packaging. 

Why a plastics rethink

Plastics are fundamental to industry and everyday life. Yet, they are one of the most wasteful examples of our existing linear, take-make-dispose economy. 

Catalysing change in this global material flow will not only create a more effective plastics system, but will also demonstrate the potential for a wider shift from a linear to a circular economy.

A radical new approach

Forty years of fragmented, incremental efforts have failed to deliver impact at scale. Rethinking the global plastics economy requires an ambitious, systemic approach.

This means collaborating across silos, and moving in a common direction to deliver impact at scale. It requires overcoming the dizzying complexity of materials and the embedded fragmentation of processes. It’s about thinking of an interdependent system rather than a series of isolated parts. It means being open to new ideas and experiments, to identify those innovations that can scale to shift the market.

A system re-design is possible

We’re on the cusp of a disruptive economic, social and technological revolution. Our world is being rewired by digitisation, automation, and artificial intelligence. Fields as disparate as biology, engineering, and design are merging. Breakthroughs in materials, business models, and technology are upending markets. Products, services and businesses unimaginable just a few years ago are here today.

The system can be redesigned and, guided by circular economy principles, deliver fundamentally better economic and environmental outcomes.