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The Next Economy
Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Circular Economy 100 Program Comes Stateside, Lands in Arizona

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) has launched a U.S. chapter of its Circular Economy 100 (CE100) program, which brings together leading organizations with the objective of innovating, developing and implementing circular economy opportunities.

The concept of a circular economy continues to gain attention in the U.S. thanks to the opportunities it offers businesses willing to capture new value from existing operations and resources - by redesigning products and business models, building new relationships with customers, harnessing technology to increase the utilization of assets, and switching to renewable energy, to name a few examples. In fact, a recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center determined that on average, U.S. companies generate 7.81 metric tons of waste for every million dollars in revenue; reducing paper waste by merely 1 percent would save the companies in the study nearly $1 billion.

The CE100 USA provides a national pre-competitive innovation platform addressing the specifics of the U.S. market. North America-based and -focused organizations have access to unique collaboration, capacity building and networking, as well as research and insight opportunities, to help them more quickly advance their circular economy ambitions. By leveraging the network, members have access to insights to help them overcome local challenges and to explore circular opportunities that they might not be able to capture in isolation.

“The circular economy offers many quantified benefits, and provides a positive way forward for businesses wishing to hedge themselves from market volatility,” Dame Ellen MacArthur said. “Our 2013 report, Towards the Circular Economy Vol. 2, highlighted the US$700 billion opportunity in global consumer goods material savings from adopting circular economy practices. For organizations which embrace the opportunities offered by the circular economy, there are first-mover advantages available. The CE100 USA program provides key insight to support organizations in their transition, and to help accelerate their rate of circular economy innovation.”

The establishment of the CE100 USA - the first members of which will be announced shortly - follows the success of the international CE100 program, established in 2013, and each will run in parallel as a separate network. Global members range from corporates, universities, city and government authorities and affiliate networks, to emerging innovators, and include brands such as Apple, Google, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Dell, eBay, Novelis and Unilever.

The latest members to join the global CE100 are Arizona State University (ASU) and the City of Phoenix.

ASU is a comprehensive public research university based in the Phoenix area, encompassing five campuses and online programs. As a Pioneer University, ASU joins a small, select group of international higher education institutions that are developing truly pioneering circular economy-orientated research and teaching programs.

Over the next three years, ASU’s Wrigley Institute is developing an ‘Introduction to Circular Economy’ course to introduce upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level students to circular economy principles and implementation strategies, including the application of biomimicry-based technology development and product design principles; sustainable supply chain management; urban anatomy; life cycle analysis; industrial ecology; and living buildings. In parallel, a professional certification program is being developed to introduce circular economy knowledge and practices to business professionals, who will have the opportunity to complete an applied circular economy project in their area of interest. A parallel graduate-level certificate program will be developed with the School of Sustainability at ASU. ASU aims to introduce formal core undergraduate and graduate circular economy programs by Spring 2018.

“Arizona State University is proud to join with Phoenix as the first higher education and city partner members of the CE100, demonstrating our on-going commitment to our design aspiration as a New American University and continued evolution as a global center for research, discovery and development,” said ASU president Michael M. Crow. “CE100 is an ideal platform for ASU and Phoenix to engage globally and work with other world leaders around the concept of the circular economy.”

ASU has partnered with the City of Phoenix to establish the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN), a global collaborative platform for governments, organizations and enterprises to share and develop principles and practices around the circular economy. In addition to 13 private partners in the Phoenix area, RISN has established three international hubs in Lagos, Nigeria; Antigua, Guatemala; and India. ASU, through its Walton Global Sustainability Solutions Services, has also partnered with the Dutch Municipality of Haarlemmermer to create the world’s first regional plan based on the principles of a circular economy.

Meanwhile, the City of Phoenix joins a select group of national, regional and municipal authorities seeking to advance their circular economy agendas, and to collaborate with the business and academic community on circular solutions.

In 2013, the city launched the Reimagine Phoenix initiative, with the goal of increasing Phoenix’s waste diversion rate to 40 percent by 2020. Recognizing that partnerships with the public and private sectors are crucial to achieving this goal, the Public Works Department is creating the Resource Innovation Campus (RIC), a 50-acre vacant land where public and private partners can collaborate, research, educate, manufacture products from the waste stream and use new technologies to help transition Phoenix from a linear economy to a circular economy.

The department envisions the RIC as a hub for businesses, entrepreneurs and industries focused on capturing value from solid wastes and transforming them into resources and materials for consumers, while stimulating the local economy through job creation and potential revenues. Additionally, the department has partnered with ASU’s Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) to provide an incubator for emerging businesses and technologies that will act as catalysts in the transition to a circular economy.

Additionally, under the Reimagine Phoenix initiative, Phoenix is developing a Resource Innovation Campus (RIC), a 50-acre vacant land where public and private partners can collaborate, research, educate, manufacture products from the waste stream and use new technologies to transition Phoenix from a linear economy to a circular economy. As a partner, ASU will advise in the design of the campus facility following Living Building ChallengeTM standards and manage the RISN headquarters on site.

The first event for CE100 USA members will be a one-day Acceleration Workshop in San Francisco on March 31, 2016. A second Acceleration Workshop, which will build on the first event, will be held in September 2016 in New York.

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