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Circulate on Fridays: Ellen MacArthur, HRH The Prince of Wales & Paul Polman on the new plastics economy

Circulate on Fridays is back for another weekly roundup. If packaging isn’t your thing, skip to the end where we’ve snuck in a few other circular economy nuggets to diversify your diet. 

It’s been a big week for plastics, and more specifically the New Plastics Economy initiative from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Last night saw the launch of at $2 million Innovation Prize together with The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, a challenge that asks designers and innovators to rethink packaging for the circular economy.

“It seems to me that answers must be found as part of a bigger shift towards the realisation of a ‘circular economy’ that will eliminate the out-dated concept of waste altogether.”

 HRH The Prince of Wales

Check out the livestream of the launch, featuring HRH The Prince of Wales, Ellen MacArthur and Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

The Telegraph offer a summary of the event , with more background on the environmental impacts of a plastic system that’s reaching its limits. Wired spoke with Rob Opsomer , who heads up the new initiative, about sort of design tweaks that could emerge the Innovation Prize progresses. The BBC’s Roger Harrabin spoke with Chris Grantham of IDEO about some of the packaging design nightmares that the Prize aims to address. Don’t forget, the competition starts now – so if you have an idea for how to reinvent plastics, head to the Prize website to get started.

If you need a reminder of why we need a New Plastics Economy, you couldn’t do much better than Michiel de Smet’s TEDx talk, released this week:

That’s all the New Plastics Economy news for this week, but keep an eye on Circulate and @NewPlasticsEcon for the latest developments.

Popular Science has a thorough story on the actions the government, businesses and citizens of Dubai are taking to prepare for the inevitable end of the fossil fuel era. Like other cities, Dubai has ambitious development goals, but it’s enthusiastic embrace of the ‘urban laboratory’ concept that makes this a story worth keeping an eye on.

Immersive, interactive experiences like video games and virtual reality have huge educational potential. While it might not sell as many copies as Call of Duty, we loved the trailer for Everything, a game developed by David O’Reilly. There’s no denying that the visuals are a bit abstract, but interconnectedness and systems thinking are recurring themes, especially in Alan Watts’ enlightened voiceover.

Finally, another excellent episode of the a16z podcast from the folks at Andreessen Horowitz. Marc Andreessen covers an immense amount of ground in the half-hour discussion, but it’s centred around the debate on whether we have too much or too little technological innovation.

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The Author

Joe Iles

Joe Iles

I'm Editor in Chief of Circulate and Digital Architect at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

When I'm not discussing the circular economy, I also love talking about digital media and online trends, memes, music, bad films and good beer.

You can find me on twitter @joeiles or email joe[at]

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