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We help clients improve the way they use and reuse natural resources to create value while safeguarding the environment.

Old industrial models of “take, make, dispose” are giving way to new thinking about the circular economy. This profound shift brings opportunities for organizations to create value and safeguard the environment by improving their management of resources, eliminating waste through better design, and maximizing the circulation of products, components, and materials in use.

We support governments, industries, and companies in integrating circular-economy principles into their strategies to support sustainable growth. For governments, implementing circular approaches can boost employment and citizen well-being, reduce resource dependencies, and limit environmental impacts. For businesses, reimagining products, packaging, services, and experiences can bring benefits to makers and users as well as the wider world.

We also help companies implement circular economy principles, professionalize the necessary processes, and skill up teams and managers accordingly.

Examples of our work

We have supported our clients on projects involving aspects of the circular economy, including the following:

Developing sustainable materials for consumer goods

Helping a consumer company to articulate an ambitious but actionable 2030 strategy, set up a world-class research facility for sustainable materials, and develop a plan to earn stakeholder trust while maintaining brand reputation

Finding alternatives to plastics packaging

Advising a multinational food company on the sustainability, cost, supply-and-demand dynamics, and recycling potential of alternatives to plastics and identifying up to €200 million in annual savings from the use of more sustainable materials

Exploring the benefits of a national circular economy

Analyzing how a European country could make the transition to a circular economy to boost competitiveness and economic growth, and pursue opportunities worth €1.5 billion to €2.5 billion

Featured Insights

Report

Fashion’s new must-have: Sustainable sourcing at scale

– Sustainable sourcing is fast becoming a top priority for fashion companies. A survey of sourcing executives reveals ambitious targets—and highlights the transformation needed.
Interview

When you pick that pre-worn jacket, the environment wins too

– Andy Ruben of Yerdle draws on his experience in sustainability to discuss how companies can enter—and thrive in—the... circular economy.
Report

Winning with new models in packaging

– The global packaging industry could change significantly by 2030. Here is what you need to know to stay competitive.
Article

Second-life EV batteries: The newest value pool in energy storage

– With continued global growth of electric vehicles (EV), a new opportunity for the power sector is emerging: stationary storage... powered by used EV batteries, which could exceed 200 gigawatt-hours by 2030.

Featured Capabilities

McKinsey invests heavily in developing proprietary tools, databases, and methods:

Plastics Waste Model

A complete and granular overview of plastic-waste flows across geographies, collection and treatment routes, and final destinations to inform policy makers, technology companies, and private equity firms.

Plastics Recycling Model

Scenario-based analysis of the economics and environmental benefits of key recycling technologies, per resin, to support decision making for petrochemical players, waste operators, and other potential investors.

Circular Economy Academy

A field and forum–based training giving clients practical insights into how to build their capabilities and run circular-economy projects.

RESOLVEr

A tool to help clients identify, quantify, and prioritize strategic circular-economy opportunities, with a particular focus on revenue growth.

McKinsey Design

Adopting design thinking to deliver utility for consumers and companies based on products, services, and experiences that are better fit for purpose and come with a smaller end-to-end resource footprint.

Featured Solution

Energy Insights

A source of analytics, market insights, and performance benchmarking to help businesses and investors manage uncertainty and make effective decisions

MORE INSIGHTS

Article

Artificial intelligence and the circular economy: AI as a tool to accelerate the transition

– Combining two emerging megatrends—artificial intelligence and circular economy—can accelerate a shift towards a regenerative... system fit for the future.
Article

How plastics waste recycling could transform the chemical industry

– Reusing plastics waste could become an important driver of profitability for chemical companies. Incumbent players need to make... the right moves now to tap this opportunity.
Article

No time to waste: What plastics recycling could offer

– Plastics waste is hurting the chemical industry as well as the environment. By taking the lead on recycling, chemical players... could add a new dimension to the industry and help solve the problem.
Interview

Tuning in to value: How Sky redesigned its set-top box for the circular economy

– An executive explains how the pay-TV company saved money and pleased customers by designing hardware for repair and reuse.
Article

A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future

– The clothing industry’s take-make-dispose model has large economic, environmental, and social costs. A transformation based... on circular-economy principles could lead to better outcomes.
Article - McKinsey Quarterly

Mapping the benefits of a circular economy

– Most European industries can improve financial performance with specific actions to reconfigure product lifecycles.
Issue

The circular economy: Moving from theory to practice

– A special collection of articles about the transition taking place as companies use circular-economy concepts to capture more... value from resources and to provide customers with better experiences.
Interview - McKinsey Quarterly

Toward a circular economy in food

– The French food and water company Danone has a history of environmental awareness. In this interview with McKinsey partner Clarisse... Magnin, CEO Emmanuel Faber discusses his commitment to resource efficiency.
Report

Growth within: A circular economy vision for a competitive Europe

– This report offers a vision for a circular economy in Europe, and argues that it is an inherently attractive alternative to our... current “linear” development path, finding positive employment effects—0.6 percent additional annual growth, and 48 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030.
Report

Saving the ocean from plastic waste

– An estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste leaks into the ocean every year. Action in just five countries could stem... that tide.
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