Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Photo by Levon Biss on Wired

Dame Ellen MacArthur


The Ellen MacArthur Foundation




The Ellen MacArthur Foundation


United Kingdom


47 years


Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust






What makes Ellen MacArthur a Global Shaker? 

Dame Ellen MacArthur shot to fame in 2005 when she made yachting history as the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe. She remains the UK’s most successful offshore racer ever.

Her first experience of sailing was on a boat owned by her aunt on the east coast of England. She saved her school dinner money for eight years to buy her first boat — an eight-foot dinghy, which she named Threp’ny Bit.

MacArthur stepped away from professional sailing in 2009 to launch the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, following 4 years travelling the world and researching the challenges facing our current global economy — where she became “acutely aware of the finite nature of the resources our linear economy relies upon”.

She is a fierce champion for the concept of a “circular economy.” A circular economy, as opposed to a linear economy, means “designing” waste and pollution out of processes, production and supply chains.

The foundation’s Circular Economy (CE100) Network provides a pre-competitive space to learn, share knowledge, and build new collaborative approaches. Companies which join CE100 are given the chance to collaborate with competitors, governments, local authorities, academics and innovators to stimulate the move to an economy that is “restorative and regenerative by design.”

Through acceleration workshops, co-projects, and an extensive portfolio of learning materials and an annual summit, members have access to a broad range of learning, networking and collaboration opportunities.

The CE100 Network has attracted a lot of huge brands and members include; Mc Donalds, Microsoft, ING and Novo Nordisk.

Additionally, in 2003, MacArthur set up the Ellen MacArthur Trust (now the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust), a registered charity, to take young people, aged between 8 and 24 inclusive, sailing to help them regain their confidence on their way to recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other serious illnesses.

MacArthur was awarded the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2005 and appointed a Knight (Chevalier) of the French Legion of Honour in recognition of her achievements in 2008.

On her concept of a circular economy, she says “if we could build an economy that would use things instead of use them up, we could build a future.”

Focus on the circular economy concept ramped up worldwide throughout 2018 and 2019 where we saw an influx of circular startups launching alongside our renewed focus to save the planet and reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions.

This year the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment which in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme.

The commitment unites over 400 businesses, governments, and other organisations from around the world behind a common vision and a set of 2025 targets to address the problem of plastic pollution at its source.

These include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, some of which are well-known consumer businesses such as ASOS; L’Oréal; MARS; Nestlé; PepsiCo; The Coca-Cola Company; and Unilever; the world’s largest retailer – Walmart; major packaging producers such as Amcor and Berry Global; and two of the largest resource management specialists – Veolia and Suez.

Tags: Circular Economy, sustainability

Last updated: March 12, 2020