KNOWLEDGE MAP Back to overview

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 Finland.

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 circular economy program in Latin America, with support for forward-thinking companies, and the plan to establish a policy roadmap and technology center for circular economy. The program started with a competition to select 25 outstanding companies that contribute to the Chilean circular economy.

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 was awarded Chile’s hosting of the COP25, where circularity was a central theme. (Pais Circular, 2019).


China has included circular economy in its policy since early in the year 2000. 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, Finland was the first country to draw a nationwide roadmap towards the circular economy. The Finnish government created this roadmap together with innovation fund Sitra. In 2019 the Finnish government updated the roadmap to stay on track, make accelerations possible and connect the transition towards a circular economy to other, broader nationwide goals, for example the Finnish climate goals.

In 2020 Sitra published a report based on all their experiences, titled: “How to create a national circular economy roadmap”.

This document describes 9 fases and advises per fase what important goals and milestones could look like and which important types of stakeholders could be involved. Furthermore the document describes tools and exercises that could be helpful in the process. Based on their own experiences Sitra even added timeframes and workloads per fase.

The roadmap was produced for the context of the national level, but can also be applied in a regional case.

Check out the full publication here: Sitra, 2020