The Initiative

Applying the principles of the circular economy, the New Plastics Economy initiative brings together key stakeholders to rethink and redesign the future of plastics, starting with packaging. The initiative is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with a broad group of leading companies, cities, philanthropists, policymakers, academics, students, NGOs, and citizens.

The New Plastics Economy reports, Rethinking the Future of Plastics and Catalysing Action, captured worldwide headlines and became global references.

The Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative is driving action with businesses and governments. In October 2018 it launched, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme, the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, uniting over 400 organisations behind one common vision and an ambitious set of 2025 targets to address the plastic waste and pollution crisis at its source.

It has also created the Plastics Pact, a network of national implementation initiatives aligned around a common vision and set of ambitious targets. The UK Plastics Pact, led by WRAP, the Pacte National sur les emballages plastiques in France and Circula El Plástico in Chile are the first national initiatives participating in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact network. Other implementation initiatives are set to follow.

See all current participants of the New Plastics Economy.

Npec Report 2 Asset

How we work

With an explicitly systemic and collaborative approach, the New Plastics Economy initiative aims to overcome the limitations of today’s incremental improvements and fragmented initiatives, to create a shared sense of direction, to spark a wave of innovation and to move the plastics value chain into a positive spiral of value capture, stronger economics, and better environmental outcomes.

The New Plastics Economy initiative focuses on five interlinked and mutually reinforcing building blocks to create the enabling conditions for a system re-design:

Dialogue mechanism
Cross-value chain collaboration is at the heart of the New Plastics Economy.

The initiative brings together global consumer goods companies, retailers, plastic producers and packaging manufacturers, cities and businesses involved in collection, sorting and reprocessing, to drive collaborative demonstration projects and co-shape the initiative. A joint philanthropic-business advisory board oversees the initiative to ensure the inclusion of a wide set of social, environmental and business considerations.

Global Plastics Protocol
A common target state to innovate towards, to overcome existing fragmentation and enable the creation of effective markets.

Today’s ineffective plastics economy is the result of decades of highly fragmented, uncoordinated and incremental innovation, which hasn’t been able to move the needle on economic value loss and negative externalities. By fundamentally rethinking the system and driving convergence, the Global Plastics Protocol enables the creation of effective markets.

Innovation moonshots
Mobilising innovations that can scale across the system, to redefine what’s possible and create the conditions for a new economy.

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. The time for moonshots is now.

Evidence base
A robust evidence base to guide improvement and inform the global debate.

A robust evidence base informs the direction of change. Economic assessments guide the prioritisation of potential improvements. Creating transparency on the realities and best practices of today’s system informs the global debate.

Stakeholder Engagement
Engaging stakeholders to learn, to inform, and to amplify what works.

Businesses, policymakers, students, educators, academics, designers, citizens, NGOs, industry associations, and others all play a role in transitioning to a new system. The initiative learns from, informs, and engages all these stakeholders.