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Ellen MacArthur charts circular economy re-design revolution

16 November 10

Summit sets out a vision and framework for re-thinking the future is it time for business leaders to re-think the way they make things?

In a world of increasing energy costs and potential resource shortfalls our future depends on a re-design of the materials, systems and services we use, say experts in 'Circular Economy' thinking ahead of an international summit in the UK this month.

A group of the world’s leading Circular Economy thinkers and advocates - including Ellen MacArthur - are challenging business and society to re-design the materials we use and to revolutionise the manner in which we make them.  In a Circular Economy waste becomes food for another cycle or process rather than simply thrown away.  This 'Cradle-to-Cradle' approach is a paradigm shift from the 'Cradle-to-Grave' or linear take-make-dispose manufacturing model which casts off as much as 90 percent of materials it uses as waste - some of it toxic.

Senior business and education stakeholders are gathering from 29November - 1 Decemberat the University of Bradford for the Ten+One conference, so called because it will feature 10 lectures around one key perspective on the transition to a sustainable economy.  They will learn more about a model gaining advocates across the globe.  As just one example, the Dutch government has announced €42 billion of procurement from companies working towards Cradle-to-Cradle products; the initiative is being led by Professor Michael Braungart from Erasmus University of Rotterdam, one of the world’s leading designers and industrial consultants and the keynote speaker at the event.

Ellen MacArthur, whose new Foundation is working with business and educators to promote interest in the Circular Economy, says: "It's time for a rethink.  Cradle-to-Cradle products and services are designed so that after their useful life they provide value, either as ‘biological nutrients’ that safely re-enter the environment or as 'technical nutrients' that circulate without being down-cycled into low-grade uses.  It's about how to thrive in a changing world, one where waste is no longer affordable."

The yachtswoman has spent the last four years working with government, business, NGOs and the public sector to learn more about the complexities of the challenges we face.  Her new Foundation is supported in areas fundamental to the sustainability of the UK – Education; Energy; Communications; Transport & Design - by Founding Partners B&Q, BT & CISCO (joint partners), National Grid and Renault.  The University of Bradford itself, through its 'Ecoversity programme', has an academic partnership with the Foundation which will see the launch of an accredited educational programme in early 2011 to help create a community of business and educational leaders for the 're-design' revolution.

Speakers / topics at the Ten+One event include:

  • Euan Sutherland, CEO, B&Q Plc on B&Q’s Closed Loop ambition
  • Douwe Jan Joustra, Programme Manager Cradle–to-Cradle, NL Agency (Ministry of Economics & Environment), Netherlands Government on the Nether land’s initiative to move business towards a Cradle-to-Cradle model
  • Chuck Bennett, Vice President, Aveda Earth & Community Care, Aveda Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of Estee Lauder), on how Aveda is adopting the Cradle-to-Cradle model for beauty product design, development and company growth

For more on The Ellen MacArthur Foundation visit:

16 November 10

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