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Circular Economy

Circulair countries

Circularity offers many advantages to countries, but it does require facilitating policies. Many countries are aware of this and are rolling out a circular strategy nationally. In terms of size and design, these strategies differ considerably. To show the diversity, here is an example of three countries from a different continent: Chile, China and Scotland.

More information on policy in the Netherlands can be found in the article:

More international examples can be viewed on the website: www.govsgocircular.com.

Figure 1: A screenshot of the website Governments Going Circular – Global Scan Best Practices.


In 2018, Chile launched the first programme for the circular economy in Latin America, with support for excellent companies, and the plan to establish a policy roadmap and a technology centre for circular economy. The program started with a competition to select 25 excellent companies that contribute to the Chilean circular economy. This programme of the Chilean Production Development Corporation (Corfo) helped to increase awareness of the concept and public appreciation of the companies involved.

The Ministry of the Environment took on the role of drawing up a map of actors and a roadmap for the circular economy. At the end of 2019, this policy plan will be crowned with the realisation of the COP25 in Chile, where circularity will be a central theme. Finally, Chile plans to establish a capital of the circular economy in a special location: the Tarapacá desert (considered the driest place on earth). Corfo, the Tarapacá regional government and private actors from the region are working together to create the Technical Centre for Circular Economy and are working together to strengthen the circularity of the region (Pais Circular, 2019).


China has included circular economy in its policy since the beginning of the 2000s. In the beginning, the main focus was on how the waste of one company could become a source of income for another. The emphasis was on the three Rs: Reduce, reuse and recycle. The latest policy, inspired by the Circular Economy Policy Portfolio released in 2017, looks at eco-design and extended producer responsibility. This has changed the policy from a pure ‘how do we manage resource flows’ perspective to an innovation agenda.

What has further promoted the transition to a circular economy is the development of the Chinese economy itself since 2000. It is not only the world’s factory that brings cheap products to the market. It is also an economy that is growing in investment capacity, in innovation, that embraces the digital economy en masse and that has serious environmental problems that it has to deal with. All these angles of approach are converging towards a new form of the overall system. And because they already have the building blocks of a circular economy in their legislation, they are taking these gradual steps towards something more comprehensive (Iles, 2018).

More info on the website of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation.


In 2016, the Scottish Executive developed a strategy to move the country towards a more circular economy, aligning its economic and environmental objectives. The aim is to bring business sectors and individuals together to work towards that goal. Two of the key elements of the strategy are to develop a more comprehensive producer responsibility and to reduce food wastage by 33% by 2025.

In addition to these goals, the Scottish Executive has set priorities for four sectors:

  • Bio-economy: the beer, whisky and fishing industries can reduce costs by £500-800 million a year through a more circular approach.
  • Re-fabrication: contributes £1.1 billion a year to Scottish GDP and could contribute £1.7 billion a year by 2020.
  • Construction: generates about half of all waste produced in Scotland, and thus has an important opportunity to improve resource efficiency.
  • Energy infrastructure: significant potential for reusing equipment from decommissioned oil, gas and renewable energy infrastructure (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2018)