Circle Economy Foundation partners with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the International Resource Panel to co-produce the World Circular Economy Forum 2024
December 14, 2023
Circle Economy Foundation partners with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the International Resource Panel to co-produce the World Circular Economy Forum 2024

The World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) is an annual event organised by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, that brings together leaders from business, government, academia and civil society to find circular solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. This year, Sitra partnered up with Circle Economy Foundation and the International Resource Panel to co-produce the event, shaping the programme, speakers and topics. 

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Turning circular visions into actions’.  With this in mind, WCEF2024 will feature the most impactful circular solutions from around the world, guided by the latest scientific evidence. The programme is designed to facilitate targeted discussions around the key enablers of a circular economy: governance, finance, people and employment, and business and innovation.

‘We are pleased to announce our partnership to make this year’s World Circular Economy Forum the most impactful yet’, says Circle Economy Foundation CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo, ‘Our experts have planned several days of exciting programming that will leave all participants feeling empowered and inspired to make the circular economy a reality.’

What sets this edition of the forum apart from previous iterations are the targeted discussions with clear outcomes, hands-on workshops and collaboration with two major players in Brussels: the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP) and the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The ECESP will deliver a European track to the main event while the Belgian Presidency team will curate a full day of accelerator sessions on 17 April, including site visits to circular economy companies in Belgium.

This collaborative programme aims to facilitate a spirit of discovery, participation, learning and cross-sectoral, international coalition-building by advocating for a just transition to circularity. The forum will encourage countries worldwide to continue working towards a circular economy that holds people and the planet at its core. More details about the programme and speakers will be announced in January 2024. 

WCEF2024 is brought to you by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, Circle Economy Foundation and International Resource Panel in close collaboration with international partners. WCEF2024 will be hosted at the SQUARE Brussels Meeting Centre from April 15–18, 2024. The forum can also be joined online or from WCEF Studios around the world.

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Circle Economy Foundation partners with Circulair West
November 30, 2023
Circle Economy Foundation partners with Circulair West

Amsterdam, Netherlands, 30 November, 2023—Circle Economy Foundation and Circulair West announced today that the organisations have entered into a strategic partnership to develop and pilot the Circulair West Academy. This pilot project aims to introduce the tools of the Foundation’s Circular Starter Kit to the Circulair West network of founders, leaders and friends. This consists of a documentary about circularity and a gamified e-learning platform.

The partnership brings together Circle Economy Foundation and Circulair West on their missions to nurture a circular economy across sectors. Circulair West was founded by six leading companies—AW Group, de Beelen Group, HOEK, Meerlanden, Ouwehand Bouw & Ontwikkeling and Timpaan—with the goal of accelerating the circular transitions of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the Netherlands. Circle Economy Foundation has developed a series of digital tools, namely the Circularity Academy—a gamified e-learning platform, to train and monitor the adoption of circularity within organisations or communities of stakeholders.

"We are so excited and grateful for the  partnership with Circulair West to bring circularity to small- and medium-sized enterprises and their employees across Holland, our home base’’, said Ivonne Bojoh, COO of Circle Economy Foundation. ‘Through this innovative collaboration, our goal is to enable members of the Circulair West network with insights, promote action, connect and track their progress towards a circular economy using the circular digital tools. We trust this is the beginning of an impactful partnership that brings circularity to many Dutch businesses’.

Friends in the Circulair West network will now have access to Circle Economy Foundation’s Circularity Academy (in Dutch), along with the Going Circular documentary and discounted Circular Starter Kits to kick-start their circular transitions. These unique digital tools take stakeholders on an evidence-based journey to help them find out where they are, envision where they can go and understand how to get there. With this in mind, businesses can spearhead their circular transition and help entire sectors and regions transform simultaneously.

"We are thrilled and grateful that Circle Economy, one of the most successful global circular economy impact organisations, is willing to partner with Circulair West to deploy their innovative digital gamification tool towards our members in the provinces of Noord- and Zuid-Holland. This tool, which has already demonstrated remarkable impact and scalability, will now benefit small and medium-sized enterprises, fostering a deeper understanding of circular principles throughout entire organisations’, said Leon van Ast of Circulair West. ‘The comprehensive gamification and user experience will undoubtedly accelerate the adoption and execution of new circular strategies and business models. We eagerly anticipate the transformative impact this collaboration will bring’’.

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Gas off, circular economy on: Dutch province of Groningen preps for a future without fossil fuels
November 22, 2023
Gas off, circular economy on: Dutch province of Groningen preps for a future without fossil fuels

The Dutch province of Groningen sits on the largest natural gas field in Europe and one of the largest in the world. However, on the 1st of October, 2023, Groningen’s gas pumps went silent. In the year of the Dutch gas industry’s 60th anniversary, production was halted, presumably, for good. This decision was long-awaited as extraction activities provoked disastrous earthquakes, endangering the local population and making Groningen’s gas one of the most debated topics in Dutch politics. 

To aid Groningen’s transition to a more sustainable and diversified economy, the Dutch government launched The National Programme Groningen (NPG)—a partnership between the government, province and municipalities—allocating seed capital of €1.5 million to implement initiatives and projects that could strengthen the living environment, the economy, education, jobs, nature and the climate. 

Together with the Programme, NOM, Groningen Seaports, Chemport Europe and Circle Economy Foundation developed a circular economy transition plan. We explored four strategic directions to guide future NPG’s multi-year investment plans towards a circular economy: optimised biomass valorisation, circular industrial processes, circular agricultural practices and urban-rural-industrial symbiosis. 

The study zoomed-in on two of the region’s biggest industries: chemical manufacturing and agrifood. These sectors are crucial for the regional economy, but they are also massive resource consumers and carbon emitters. Building a symbiosis of agriculture and chemical manufacturing could substantially cut emissions and waste, creating an efficient, circular system. 

We found that many elements needed to build a circular economy are already present in the region. Groningen's farmers, for example, have some of the most advanced equipment and knowledge in Europe, which would facilitate a seamless transition to circular agriculture. In addition, the green chemistry sector has already taken root in the province. Advanced logistics and infrastructure, including a seaport, could also contribute to Groningen’s status as a global circular economy hotspot. 

However, a lack of skilled workforce hinders the region's transition, and circular materials are still more expensive to produce and obtain. On top of that, local legislation needs to be adapted to favour more circular business models. 

Although barriers to Groningen's circularity remain, local entrepreneurs, government representatives and knowledge institutions support the transition plan. The Circular Economy in Groningen report was presented at the event ‘Circular without borders’ in Delfzijl on the 14th of November. The event was attended by local stakeholders and co-organised by Holland Circular Hotspot and Circular Groningen, an organisation established just six months ago that already boasts more than 50 participating companies. 

Groningen’s provincial council member responsible for agriculture and economy, Henk Emmens, officially endorsed the transition plan, adding: ‘In this way, we’ll maintain guaranteed employment for a generation in sectors that continue to become more sustainable. We’ll have jobs and a better environment.’

The benefits of the circular economy in Groningen are clear to all stakeholders: from job creation to enhanced social welfare, prevention of additional earthquake damage, and a competitive advantage for the region's main economic sectors. Governments and industries are ready to take action. Groningen’s journey from  gas capital to circular hotspot can also serve as a blueprint for the European post-fossil fuels future. 

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Munich's residents consume four times more resources than deemed sustainable
November 16, 2023
Munich's residents consume four times more resources than deemed sustainable

Munich’s residents, on average, use 32 tonnes of raw materials per person per year. This is 11 tonnes more than the German average and four times the estimated ‘sustainable’ level of 8 tonnes per person per year, a threshold established by UNEP and the International Resource Panel needed to support ‘a safe operating space’ on Earth. However, this trend of overconsumption could be reversed if the city fully embraces the circular economy.

These are some of the main findings of the Circularity Gap Report Munich, the first-ever study measuring the Circularity Gap of a city. This report measures the city’s material consumption, material cycling, consumption-based carbon footprint* and other indicators.

The study points out that, like many metropolises, Munich almost entirely relies on imports to satisfy its needs. It gets 48% of its materials from Germany, 16% from Europe and 36% from the rest of the world. But while resources are consumed locally, the environmental pressures stemming from their extraction, processing and transportation are felt globally. 

What’s more, the average Munich resident is responsible for 23 tonnes of consumption-based carbon emissions annually.* This is almost two-thirds more than the German average and is nearly 2.5 times the footprint of the average EU citizen. 

Such a high carbon footprint* is linked to the overconsumption of raw materials—a common occurrence for wealthy cities like Munich. For example, the city is known for its robust manufacturing industry and booming service economy. Both industries are big consumers and emitters.* While a service economy can help decouple value from raw material use, it still drives material consumption as necessary infrastructure is built up through construction, and as buildings are heated and maintained—activities that demand massive amounts of materials and energy. 

A circular economy can serve as a means to maintain Munich’s citizens’ high quality of life while substantially reducing negative impacts elsewhere, such as climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss. The report estimates that of all materials consumed by the local economy annually, 2.4% are recycled materials, which is low compared to the global average of 7.2%. To improve these and other key circularity indicators, Munich is advised to adopt circular economy strategies in high-impact areas like construction, manufacturing, transport, food and lifestyle choices. 

Like in many growing cities, construction is the largest contributor to Munich’s material consumption and carbon footprint,* claiming 21% of annual material use—meaning that strategies targeting this sector are the most impactful ones. The report advises, for example, that the city could limit urban sprawl and focus on preserving and repurposing existing buildings. In addition, Munich might speed up existing efforts to boost the building stock’s energy efficiency. 

Encouraging circularity in manufacturing could also deliver sizable benefits. However, much depends on Munich’s residents. Shifting their lifestyle choices towards buying fewer items and keeping them for longer could cut the city’s material use by around 10%. At the same time, local producers can bolster circularity by designing their products for easy repair and recycling.

The study acknowledges the successes of Munich’s circular economy strategy with initiatives like investment in public transport, community gardens and remanufacturing activities, but calls for bolder action to accelerate the circular transition. If all recommendations mentioned in the report were implemented, Munich’s material use could be reduced by 43%, and the carbon footprint* could be lowered by 22%. 

*The Circularity Gap Report Munich was commissioned by CIRCULAR REPUBLIC and authored by Circle Economy Foundation. This report uses a consumption-based carbon accounting approach for emissions from goods and services consumed by the residents of a locality, regardless of where those emissions occur. However, normally a territorial-based methodology is used in Germany to calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) balances at the municipal level, using the BISKO standard. Thus, Munich's GHG balances following BISKO standard should and can not directly be compared with the results of this study.

Read the full Circularity Gap Report Munich here

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Latin America exports 40% of its extracted resources at the cost of environmental degradation, new study finds
October 10, 2023
Latin America exports 40% of its extracted resources at the cost of environmental degradation, new study finds

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) export more than double the amount of materials they import—40% of what is extracted annually. The rapid rise in global material demand has become a major driver of environmental degradation and social inequalities in the region. However, a new study finds that implementing circular economy strategies could cut the region’s material use and carbon footprint by roughly 30% each while generating over 8.8 million new formal jobs. 

The Circularity Gap Report Latin America and the Caribbean, commissioned by international development bodies* and authored by Circle Economy Foundation, explores how materials are extracted, used and cycled in the LAC region. The report also estimates the potential impact of circular economy strategies in improving the region’s environmental health, reducing carbon emissions, and creating jobs. 

According to the report, LAC countries supply over 11% of the world's raw materials despite representing only 8.3% of the world's population. The region consumes, on average, 12.4 tonnes of materials per person per year, which includes biological matter, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic materials. This is on par with the global average of 12.2 tonnes but far less than many European countries. Switzerland, for example, consumes 19 tonnes of materials per capita, while Sweden uses a whopping 25 tonnes.

The study warns that overconsumption in wealthy countries has damaged the region’s local environment. LAC is the largest net food exporting region worldwide, producing almost a quarter of all meat consumed globally. However, this drives deforestation, resulting in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss. What’s more, current agricultural practices damage pollinators and soil health, threatening the sector’s long-term resilience. 

The report calculated that out of all materials consumed in local economies, less than 1% make it back into use in the form of reused and recycled materials. However, reliable calculations are challenging as up to two-thirds of waste in the region isn’t tracked by official statistics. Other data gaps are also prevalent, allowing for illegal landfilling and pollution, and preventing local governments from effectively monitoring waste streams. The report highlights the importance of rigorous waste and material tracking and its reflection in official accounts.

Local governments are also encouraged to recognise the value of circular economy principles, such as regenerative farming, reducing industrial waste and renovating old buildings instead of building new ones. Implementing circular economy strategies in just two sectors—Agrifood and Manufacturing—can cut LAC’s material and carbon footprints by one-third each, ensuring a healthier environment and a safer climate.  

The study also estimates that around 8.8 million new formal jobs could be created if the region transitions to a circular economy. In this way, informal jobs could be transitioned to formal employment. Examples of new occupations include recycling facility workers, repair and maintenance operatives, public transport operatives, logistics managers, urban planners, and biotechnicians. The successful implementation of circular strategies can bring other socioeconomic benefits, such as improved health and well-being, and decent work. However, to harness its full potential, the transition to a circular economy must be just and inclusive by design.

*The Circularity Gap Report Latin America and the Caribbean was commissioned by IDB, IDB Invest, ECLAC, UNIDO, UNEP’s initiative Global Opportunities for the Sustainable Development Goals GO4SDGs, the Circular Economy Coalition for Latin America and the Caribbean and authored by Circle Economy Foundation. Read the full Circularity Gap Report Latin America and the Caribbean here

About Circle Economy Foundation

Circle Economy Foundation envisions an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. We are a global impact organisation founded in 2011, and to date have worked with 80+ businesses, 31+ cities and 20+ nations around the world. Our practical and scalable approach is focused on empowering decision-makers from the public and private sectors to develop and implement circular economy strategies and business models. We do this by combining research, data, and digital tools for the greater good.

About the Circular Economy Coalition Latin America and the Caribbean (CEC)

The CEC is a regional platform to enhance inter-ministerial, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder cooperation, and increase knowledge and understanding of the circular economy. It provides training and technical assistance for the development of public policies related to the circular economy and sustainable consumption and production.

About the IDB 

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region. Access our virtual tour.

About IDB Invest

IDB Invest, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, is a multilateral development bank committed to promoting the economic development of its member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through the private sector. IDB Invest finances sustainable companies and projects to achieve financial results and maximize economic, social, and environmental development in the region. With a portfolio of $16.3 billion in assets under management and 394 clients in 25 countries, IDB Invest provides innovative financial solutions and advisory services that meet the needs of its clients in a variety of industries.


The UNEP-led GO4SDGs initiative—Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals—is at the forefront of accelerating efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly emphasizing sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and promoting green jobs and economic growth (SDG 8). It connects global partnerships with regional efforts, amplifying its impact and guiding economies towards sustainability, in line with the 2030 Paris Agreement. The initiative supports governments in policy coherence, facilitates SMEs to secure funding for circularity, and empowers youth to embrace sustainable lifestyles. An integral part of GO4SDGs is the "Green Jobs for Youth Pact", a UN collaboration involving the ILO, UNEP, and UNICEF, dedicated to fostering decent job opportunities for youth and promoting sustainable development and circularity.

About ECLAC  

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean - ECLAC brings together economic analysis, policies proposals and policy implications, providing technical assistance and international cooperation all over the region. In performing this mission, ECLAC regularly convenes governments, policymakers, and researchers to address economic, social, and environmental challenges for the economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean and translate these challenges into policies at regional and national levels.

About UNIDO 

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), as a specialized agency of the United Nations, has the primary responsibility to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the developing countries and in countries with economies in transition.

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Circle Economy Foundation and Regeneration.VC Partner to Supercharge Dutch Climate Innovation
September 18, 2023
Circle Economy Foundation and Regeneration.VC Partner to Supercharge Dutch Climate Innovation

Amsterdam, September 18, 2023 — Circle Economy Foundation, an Amsterdam-based impact organisation, and Regeneration.VC, an early-stage venture fund, are launching a strategic partnership. This impact-oriented collaboration aims to uncover the most impactful Dutch Consumer ClimateTech businesses and scale them globally. 

Global material consumption has tripled in the last 50 years, and the related extraction, handling and consumption of these materials generates 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Circle Economy Foundation’s Global Circularity Gap Report points out that only 7.2% of these resources are getting reused, creating a systems change opportunity to greatly improve circularity and lower resource extraction. 


The Netherlands has established itself as one of the world’s leading circular innovation hubs, drawing support and engagement from policymakers, corporations, top-tier investors and world-class entrepreneurs. Circle Economy Foundation and Regeneration.VC are partnering to accelerate Dutch circular innovations ready for the global stage that can play a pivotal role in tackling the climate emergency.  The initial investment strategy will source best-of-class early-stage Consumer ClimateTech businesses to build a concentrated Dutch portfolio.  

‘Today, many large corporations are investing in reducing or offsetting their scope-3 emissions. We believe this funding is better used to fuel climate innovations in the supply chain. Over 50% of these emissions can be addressed with circular economy solutions. In the Circle Economy—Regeneration.VC partnership, we intend to do just that—invest in start-ups that can help corporations address the root cause of their scope-3 emissions.’ says Martijn Lopes Cardozo, CEO at Circle Economy Foundation.

Within the partnership, Circle Economy Foundation will provide state-of-the-art circularity impact measurement across the portfolio. In addition, the foundation will utilise its unique position within the Netherlands to locate and scale the most promising enterprises. Regeneration.VC will provide due diligence, go-to-market strategy and manage the investment process, while its advisory team of top materials, reuse and consumer experts will further accelerate portfolio opportunities globally. 

‘In many ways, the Netherlands is leading the world in circularity. From before our inception, Circle Economy Foundation has inspired us to think more quantitatively and thoughtfully about the material flows of companies, cities and countries.  It’s incredibly exciting for our team to actively collaborate to uncover the best technologies addressing consumer supply chain emissions in the epicentre of circularity.  With upcoming EU regulations, there is tremendous innovation and investment happening in the region, and we look forward to bringing it to the US and beyond,’ according to Michael Smith, Regeneration.VC General Partner.

‘At Circle Economy Foundation, we are devoted to accomplishing real impact on the ground. As a circular entrepreneur, I believe the right partner can be a game-changer in these efforts. Together with Regeneration.VC, we are well-poised to empower entrepreneurs to address the climate challenge,’ adds Martijn Lopes Cardozo.  


Circle Economy Foundation envisions an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. We are a global impact organisation founded in 2011, and to date have worked with 80+ businesses, 31+ cities and 20+ nations around the world. Our practical and scalable approach is focused on empowering decision-makers from the public and private sectors to develop and implement circular economy strategies and business models. We do this by combining research, data, and digital tools for the greater good.


Regeneration.VC is an early-stage venture fund Supercharging Consumer-Powered Climate Innovation driven by circular and regenerative principles. We invest in Consumer ClimateTech companies across Design (AgTech & Aquaculture and Next-Gen Materials), Use (Apparel & Lifestyle and Food & Beverage brands), and Reuse (Recommerce and Reverse Logistics platforms) strategies that generate measurable environmental impact alongside outsized return potential.

For questions and interview requests, please contact Amy Kummetha, Communications Manager at Circle Economy, at

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The Circular Buildings Coalition announces the winners of the Blueprint Projects open call
September 13, 2023
The Circular Buildings Coalition announces the winners of the Blueprint Projects open call

Amsterdam, 13 of September 2023 —The Circular Buildings Coalition (CBC) is thrilled to announce the winners of its open call for Blueprint Projects. Ten groundbreaking European initiatives are being awarded € 20,000 for project development and replication. The winners were selected from 57 total applications by an expert jury. 

The Circular Buildings Coalition launched the Blueprint Projects programme to challenge existing barriers to scale and create demand for circular solutions, thus accelerating the transition towards a circular economy in the built environment. Our research revealed that the prevailing financial system, underdeveloped material resale markets as well as ownership and business models hinder the adoption of circular economy principles. The coalition is determined to overcome these roadblocks by selecting, showcasing and scaling circular innovations in the sector. 

‘We were delighted to receive so many quality applications from all over Europe. This response reflects the enormous interest in a circular built environment and a growing understanding of its huge socioeconomic potential. The winning projects share our ambitious vision and are well-positioned to address existing barriers in the sector’, says Eva Gladek, CEO at Metabolic, the systems change agency acting as the lead of the coalition. 

The following organisations were selected to participate in the first phase of the Blueprint Projects programme. 

And The People. A Dutch foundation that aims to identify how community land trusts (CLTs) can overcome barriers to circular construction by fostering collective ownership, stewardship and governance.

Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy. The project of this Swiss Foundation will devise guidelines for PaaS contract development in Europe, aiming at creating a collaborative space for a wider uptake of this business model.

Circotrade. An organisaton from France that captures buildings’ unrealised value by listing, gauging and trading its components via an innovative futures contract. In this way, it boosts the uptake of secondary construction materials and products. 

Concular GmbH. This German company develops insurance that covers the warranty of reclaimed construction materials. This lowers the risk of buying secondary materials and facilitates their wider adoption.

Gearcraft. In this project, Dutch and German stakeholders join hands to make Facades-as-a-Service a common practice, demonstrating the business case and sustainability rationale of this ownership scheme.

Irish Green Building Council (IGBC). This organisation cultivates secondary material markets with Construction Material Exchange, a digital platform connecting stakeholders to exchange or trade excess and reclaimed construction materials.

ReLondon. The ‘London Circular Construction Coalition’ project zeroes in on the public sector, fostering demand and supply of secondary construction materials in London and creating a digital infrastructure to spur collaboration between private and public actors. 

SURA Impact. This Belgian pilot project, Material As A Service Company (MASCO), co-finances upfront investments for circular materials, lowering investment barriers and allowing secondary materials to compete effectively with virgin ones.

University College London. With its Building Passport Alignment Project (BPAP), buildings can exchange digital information with investors, supporting the reporting requirements for sustainable finance and driving investment in circular and sustainable buildings.

Zupply. This Danish start-up develops a take-back scheme for construction materials, allowing suppliers to reclaim components from demolished buildings through a digital network. 

‘These ten pioneering projects represent an important step forward in our mission to achieve a circular built environment in Europe. They address precisely the challenges identified in the analysis produced by the Circular Building Coalition. We need to push the boundaries where it’s needed the most’, says Martijn Lopes Cardozo, CEO at Circle Economy, an impact organisation based in Amsterdam, the co-lead of the coalition. 

‘Laudes Foundation collaborates with forward-thinking partners, such as the Circular Building Coalition, to help the real estate and construction industries better serve their communities and workers, as well as the planet. With the appropriate backing and financial resources, these initiatives could help transform the European built environment into something regenerative, inclusive, and free of carbon emissions. Now is the time to scale them up.’ Richard Boyd, Senior Programme Manager at Laudes Foundation, founding funder of the CBC. 

Over the following months, these organisations will produce whitepapers containing feasibility studies and plans for overcoming existing barriers to scale, creating demand and supporting the diffusion of their initiative. Based on the outcomes of this phase, the Circular Buildings Coalition plans to grant five organisations an additional € 75,000 to pilot their solution.

For questions or to request an interview, please contact Ivan Thung, Metabolic Senior Consultant and Programme Lead for the Circular Buildings Coalition:


The Circular Buildings Coalition is an initiative supported by the Laudes Foundation and empowered by Metabolic, Circle Economy, WorldGBC, WBCSD, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Arup to accelerate the adoption of circular economy principles in the European built environment. It aims to address three systemic challenges in order to scale action in Europe through building alliances, developing a common understanding and providing proven solutions. More info at

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The CEO of our newest firm, Circle Economy Consulting, reflects on ten years at Circle Economy
September 6, 2023
The CEO of our newest firm, Circle Economy Consulting, reflects on ten years at Circle Economy

Over ten years ago, Marc de Wit began his journey at Circle Economy as one of its first employees building an organisation based on the vision of founder Robert-Jan van Ogtrop. When Circle Economy started in Amsterdam 12 years ago, the idea of the circular economy was hardly on the radar. Today, the concept has become well-known as a leading solution to the ongoing climate crisis. With the team now 70 people strong and the launch of a new firm, Circle Economy Consulting, on the horizon, we’re taking this opportunity to sit down with Marc to take stock of the last ten years and the journey that lies ahead.

Before diving into your 11 years at Circle Economy, what can you share about the upcoming change?

Well, I am really excited that today we start a new firm, Circle Economy Consulting. Still as part of the Circle Economy family but fully focussed on helping businesses to implement circular solutions. It builds on everything we have learned over the past ten years working with so many great companies, from small ones like Fairphone to big names like Philips.

Looking back, can you share a bit about what inspired you to join Circle Economy in the beginning?

I was working in sustainability consulting when I made the transition to Circle Economy. The big draw for me was the new adventure. A new organisation. A concept that was based on such a powerful idea yet with so much territory to be explored. And the founders’ idea that this transition should focus on all relevant stakeholders—from government to education and the business community—was very intriguing to me. Being able to connect worlds, build bridges and dissect the challenges various players face in the transition to the circular economy. 

And what was it that made you stick around all these years?

One red thread has been collaboration. I have been fascinated by the variety of stakeholders that I have worked with over the years—and that are all needed to make the circular economy a reality. This was such a joy. One day, I’d be working with a civil servant in the city of Amsterdam, presenting to the deputy mayor, while the next moment, I’d be discussing how to speed up investments at a bank or discuss technological innovations and new business models in the manufacturing industries. It has been these years of seeing and discussing all perspectives that have been both rewarding as well as eye-opening.

What do you enjoy most about working with clients?

The most rewarding moment of working alongside clients is when you reach breakthroughs. From the moment we analyse the data and get a sense of where the real impact is to becoming more circular, reducing carbon emissions, boosting company resilience or delivering better products to customers. To generate these insights, we have developed and refined an approach that relies heavily on data analysis but always in combination with the human touch. 

Can you share some highlights from your time at Circle Economy?

I am really grateful for the opportunities I got during my time at Circle Economy. It has always felt like we could do everything we wanted as long as we could get the right people together and a bit of money to get started. This is how we began our work with businesses, which soon led to our first City Scan with Amsterdam in 2016. Another highlight was the article in National Geographic, which was great recognition while introducing the topic to a general audience. Also, the launch of the first CGR in 2018 and the launch of the first national CGR in Austria in 2019. So many!

What have been some of the pivotal moments for you in the development of circular thinking?

One particular point stands out for me, which must have been in 2017. The topic of a circular economy was catching on. But it struck me that there was an exclusive focus on new business models for circularity, which remained relatively vague. Thinking about moving forward in the transition, I thought it was crucial to develop a measurement of circularity. An answer to the question: How circular is the world today?  Already in the early years at Circle Economy, we started to collect data and look at patterns across the global economy. From these early steps in a small team and with our own investment, we wrote the first Circularity Gap Report (CGR) back in 2018. And this thinking is the central offering to businesses as well. Where do you stand today, where can you go and how can you get there?

What do you think the role of consulting is in the circular economy space?

When we started more than ten years ago, we were pioneers. Pioneers in developing a basic notion of what a circular economy is and is not. Grounding our analysis in data. Data that is scarcely available, but with the right mindset and experience, there is always a lot you can find if you know where to look. But moving from the analysis, it is crucial to work with people in organisations that transfer the insights and build the capabilities to continue on their own. Our work aims to get people in a position where they can move forward without us. So, in short, the key is to move from a place of long-standing and deep insights, let analysis play a role in understanding where you stand and where you want to go and get people trained up and in a place where they themselves can drive tangible change.

What do you see as Circle Economy Consulting’s unique contribution?

In short, central to our approach are two things: data and people. We strongly believe that with the right data and analysis, you have a solid starting point and knowledge to light your path. But ultimately, you need people to interpret these data and people to add their experience, skills and energy to transform and implement real solutions. We want to nourish our track record of deep insights and a pragmatic approach while creating solutions that people can apply in the real world. We strongly believe in working closely with businesses—getting to know each other and developing solutions together. 

Who are you taking with you on this adventure?

It’s great that you asked that question. Because on top of how we work, as I just explained, it is most important and fun to work with the best in the field. I am incredibly happy that I’m launching this brand-new firm with a passionate team of circular economy experts. A team with a long-standing track record of collaborating with over 100 businesses, including industry leaders like Philips, Action and Rockwool.

To wrap up, why is now the time for Circle Economy Consulting, and what are your hopes for the future?

The time for this initiative really is now. We’re coming out of a year where not only do we see nature taking a hit with record temperatures, wildfires and floods, but also businesses are feeling the impact. Even with covid-19 being a vague memory, we see that the current state of the world is putting a magnifying glass on the cracks in the system—surging resource scarcity, supply chain disruptions and, at least in Europe, increasing legislation that requires businesses to act. We want to play a proactive role in helping businesses embed circular economy thinking to become future-proof and play an active role in shaping a future where all people and the planet can thrive.

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