The Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Accelerating a Circular Economy for Plastic Packaging

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: April 29, 2020
Length: 18 pages
Product ID#: 9-550-406

Core Disciplines: Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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Plastic has become essential to global day-to-day activities, yet it is also causing extreme environmental degradation. Many leaders in the plastics industry are starting to question its sustainability. This case presents insights into the future of the plastic packaging industry. Students will follow Sander Defruyt of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and his New Plastics Economy initiative that aims to engage industry-leading companies—such as Amcor, Danone, SC Johnson, Coca-Cola, and L’Oreal—to work toward a common goal of creating a circular economy and reducing unsustainable plastic packaging. The case highlights how a circular economy is not possible within the current system and that industry actors need to rethink the entire plastics market to implement sustainable changes.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Identify the key issues associated with plastic pollution.
  • Describe the key stakeholders involved in the plastic packaging value chain.
  • Evaluate the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s approach to stakeholder outreach and engagement.
  • Explore and analyze the hesitation of some companies to fully support the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.