Renewable materials for a low-carbon and circular future

Ellen MacArthur Foundation forums such as the CE100 network are essential to achieving shared global goals - new paper is designed to start a conversation

Achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement climate targets will hinge upon the global transition to a low- carbon circular economy. Realising these goals requires action across the private sector, civil society and governments. Our organisations are committed to decrease climate change impacts and increase circularity. We minimise our greenhouse gas emissions, keep our products and materials in use and support recycling through innovation, collaboration and new thinking in our business models.

We see great potential for the increased uptake and recycling of renewable materials. In some cases, replacing finite and fossil-based materials with renewable materials can lead to substantial carbon footprint improvements for our products.

Full deployment of renewable materials can drive an innovation agenda and drive economic growth. In Europe alone, 400,000 new skilled jobs could be created in the bio-economy by 2020, and the global market for renewable plastics alone is forecast to grow 20% by 2022.

To achieve this potential an effort is needed to align business needs, research agendas, and policy making around common definitions and a common vision. To this end, the circular economy concept has had some success. However, the role renewable materials can play in the circular economy needs some clarification, including to what extent they can substitute for non- renewable materials.

This paper is designed to start a conversation. Our group of organisations seek to raise the questions that we encounter through efforts to implement circularity within our operations and with our supply chain partners. In this paper we have set out the opportunities and challenges that face renewable materials today and our shared vision for the future.

The private sector can drive the uptake, re-use and recycling of renewable materials. But dialogue is needed to align research agendas and develop policy frameworks. This communication is the result of our companies’ collaboration within the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 network. By providing a pre- competitive space for organisations to learn, share and collaborate, forums such as the CE100 are essential to achieving our shared global goals.


Download the full paper here.


Ellen McArthur Foundation, 2019-04.


Ellen MacArthur Foundation


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