What is a Circular Economy?- Lessons to share with members

Emma Keenan, Deputy Director at LUPC, shares her thoughts from her first session on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s programme: ‘From Linear to Circular.’  

"This week saw the start of the 4th cohort of the Linear to Circular Programme delivered by the Ellen MacArthur foundation. 

Following a robust application process, I was lucky enough to be given a place on the 10 week course which (from 1300 applicants), invited 186 delegates, from 46 countries and 52 nationalities to come together to learn and develop ideas on circular economy practices.  The course consists of whole group and team learning across a wide range of topics (food, plastics, fashion, policy) and then a small group project relating to a particular industry challenge.  Networking to learn is fundamental to the ethos of the programme.

Part of my reason for wanting to attend is to better my knowledge generally on the topic, there is much we can do personally to benefit the world around us. As a procurement professional, I also want to incorporate my learning into the work I do on a daily basis to explore opportunities for beneficial change in business.

I learned yesterday the most common misconception is that a circular economy is simply about recycling, it does include that, but its much bigger.  A true circular economy considers widely all three pillars of sustainability: the economy, social factors and the environment – not separately, together, as a system where all elements work in synergy.

It is about starting at the very beginning, designing products, systems and processes which right from their very inception consider every single aspect of every single thing that it will affect, and be affected by, throughout its life and in conjunction with others.  The Ellen MacArthur foundation succinctly say:

“A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems”.

I will keep sharing my experience and useful resources in regular updates.  If you want to learn more about the Ellen MacArthur foundation and its programmes you can do so here."