Circular economy: the lever to zero-emissions challenge

Moving to renewables can only address 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but a great portion is still missing out. It emerges from “Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy tackles Climate Change”, the latest scientific paper published by Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Solvay endorsed the whitepaper commitment together with other 20 companies, highlighting the opportunity to apply the circular economy to reduce emissions and increase resilience to the effects of climate change. 

As leaders from around the world gathered in New York for Climate Week NYC, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report, launched in collaboration with Material Economics, revealed the need for a fundamental shift in the global approach to stop climate change. The UK-based charity, whose mission is to accelerate the transition to a circular economy to tackle the world’s most significant challenges, says it is vital to move beyond the current focus on renewable energy as a solution to climate change.

“Switching to renewable energy plays a vital role in addressing climate change, but this alone will not be enough. In order to achieve targets on climate, it is critical that we transform how we design, make, and use products, and food. Completing the picture through a transition to a circular economy can enable us to meet the needs of a growing global population while creating a prosperous and resilient economy that can run in the long term.

Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the EMC Foundation

Decarbonizing value chain while transitioning to circular business models

Combining two pivots to truly change the climate story

As an active partner of the Foundation, we are engaged in a journey to re-think and develop circular business models with customers to preserve the resources of the planet. We can build value to the circularity in 4 major ways: 

  • Bring new functionalities: transform wastes from the strategic markets of Solvay into added value raw materials
  • Enhanced technology: create value by increasing the quality of the recycled material through an improved process
  • Eco-design: develop new products to be circular by design
  • Services business models  & market education

Download the report

 “At Solvay, we know that we can only create value for another 155 years which does not come at the expense of our planet. We are adapting our use of resources and boldly decoupling our growth rate from our emissions to reach our goal in emissions reduction in absolute terms by 2025. This initiative makes us rare among our peers in the industry who we call upon to join us. As shown in this Whitepaper, the circular economy is an essential lever to help us collectively achieve the Paris Agreement to protect our planet for future generations.”

Ilham Kadri, Solvay CEO

Starting from the core

Climate and energy transitions need more circular business models

Whilst the circular economy is underpinned by renewable energy, this whitepaper concentrates on five key areas -- from materials to food production, to illustrate how designing out waste, keeping them in use, and regenerating farmland can reduce nearly 9.3 billion tonnes of emissions by 2050.

"We are proud to have disconnected the trajectory of our GHG emissions from our business growth, by adopting a target in absolute terms,” says Pascal Chalvon Demersay, Solvay Chief Sustainability & Energy Officer, "but climate change is also closely linked to resources use, reducing the demand in virgin materials either by keeping materials in use or by recycling and opt for renewable raw materials. By decoupling the use of virgin materials from business growth it will result also in GHG emissions reduction from our production processes. Both targets are necessary to enhance each other by improving chemical processes, energy consumption, waste generation and the use of land."

These examples provide a clear message to other industries of the value the circular economy can offer.

Contact us

Isabelle Gubelmann Bonneau

Head of circular economy at Solvay