Putting people at the heart of the circular economy

How can economies and industries move towards a circular economy that promotes wellbeing within planetary boundaries?

The Circular Jobs Initiative uncovers how circular economy interventions can help move economies and industries towards greater environmental sustainability in a fair and just way.

We identify the people, skills and roles needed to scale these interventions. At the same time, we reveal the opportunities and challenges that the circular economy offers people worldwide. With these insights, we help policymakers and industries to create inclusive plans that put the circular economy into action: with and for people.


The circular economy is a vehicle for sustainable development—by addressing environmental challenges and meeting societal needs. From creating greater supply chain resilience and jobs to being a climate adaptation and mitigation tool. With the circular economy, we can change the way we live and work, redistributing the benefits of low-carbon and regenerative economies within and across borders.

We face a choice today. How governments and industry actors choose to implement circular economy interventions will impact people around the world. To put people at the centre of the circular economy and maximise the social benefits it can bring, we need to know:
  • Who and what roles and skills are needed to drive circular economy interventions?
  • Who will be impacted by scaling circular economy interventions or implementing new ones?
  • How can circular economy interventions minimise trade-offs between environmental and social targets?


A circular job is any occupation that directly involves or indirectly supports one of the strategies of the circular economy. We differentiate between three types of circular jobs: core, enabling and indirectly circular jobs:
Core circular jobs
All jobs that ensure the closure of raw material cycles, including jobs in repair, renewable energy, waste and resource management. They form the core of the circular economy.
Enabling circular jobs
Remove barriers for and enable the acceleration and upscaling of core circular activities, including jobs that arise in leasing, education, design and digital technology. They form the supporting shell of the circular economy.
Indirectly circular jobs
Indirectly uphold the circular economy. These jobs occur in other sectors that do not play a direct role in furthering the transition to the circular economy but can still adopt circular strategies. They include jobs that provide services to core circular strategies, including jobs in information services, logistics and the public sector.
Learn more


The Circular Jobs Initiative enables stakeholders in governments and industry to understand the people, skills and enabling conditions that are needed to unlock the social benefits of the circular economy. We do this through three focus areas:

examples of OUR work

Learn about our work with these examples of some of our past and current projects.

The Circular Jobs Monitor

The Circular Jobs Monitor gathers and displays data on the number, range and location of jobs that are part of the circular economy and provides policymakers, economists, and labour organisations with insights into the relationship between circular economy activities and the labour market.
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Putting Circular Textiles to Work

This project analysed the Dutch circular textiles industry on its impact on employment. It explored how different strategies— from a shift in consumption, to prioritising repair, to textile recycling—will impact jobs, and the skills needed to get there.
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Upskilling TVET institutions and training providers on the circular economy

UNESCO-UNEVOC and Circle Economy Foundation implemented a project to strengthen the capabilities of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and training providers in facilitating young people in their entry or re-entry to new job markets and entrepreneurial ventures, with a focus on youth affected by unemployment due to the pandemic
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Decent work in the circular economy

This is a joint initiative of Circle Economy Foundation, the International Labour Organisation and the World Bank’s Solutions For Youth Employment (S4YE) Programme. It creates evidence and tools to unlock the potential of the circular economy for promoting innovation, sustainable enterprise, and decent work for all.
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Read more about our work

OUR partners


Senior Labour Market Consultant
Goodwin Brown
Lead of the Circular Jobs Initiative
Labour Market Consultant
Veillet Lavallée
Senior Researcher

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