A circular economy is an economy that creates value from natural resources in new ways, coupling growth to positive environmental and social outcomes. Fundamentally, circularity is about ending the current practice of: ‘take, make, use, dispose’ in the built environment and bringing long-term sustainability to an organisation’s operations. 

Arup has been the knowledge partner for the built environment to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since 2016, advocating the use of these principles across our industry.

To adopt circular economy principles is to use new business models, design principles and logistics strategies which: design out waste and pollution wherever possible; keep products and materials in use for as long as possible; regenerate natural systems. Arup helps organisations across the built environment, from city governments to developers, asset managers to construction product manufacturers, to embed circular economy principles in the way their businesses operate, produce or manufacture.

How we help you

Adopt circular economy practices

We are working with asset developers, owners and contractors to adopt the circular economy, by applying its logic at a number of levels. First, an organisation needs to evaluate its current practices to identify a pathway towards a circular business model. Circular outcomes then become possible, but only when practices are also adopted across the supply chain. Collaboration is key and requires an initial commitment to education and awareness raising among employees, clients, commercial partners and others. 

The greatest opportunities for the circular economy come when principles are applied as part of an organisation's strategic decision making – rather than a one-off sustainable design strategy. At Arup, our expertise stretches across the value chain from policy, finance and design to procurement, operations and logistics. We are able to identify lost value under business-as-usual operations in relation to indicators including performance, whole-life costs, revenue generation potential, resource flows and utilisation rates – to help inform strategic proposals.

What are the benefits of a circular economy approach?

Adopting circular economy principles offers businesses profitable services, developers more adaptable assets, cities reduced waste management costs and citizens improved services with lower economic and environmental costs.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation video cover
'Re-Thinking Progress' explores how through a change in perspective we can re-design the way our economy works - designing products that can be 'made to be made again' and powering the system with renewable energy. It questions whether with creativity and innovation we can build a restorative economy.

Circular Buildings Toolkit

Discover strategies and actions to develop truly sustainable buildings

Provide advice and support across sectors

Regulatory and market demands are converging to encourage the shift to a circular economy ethos, but adopting circularity remains a major undertaking requiring a stepped approach and detailed planning. We help organisations to identify, prioritise, and implement opportunities for decarbonisation and circularity, aligning with ESG and TCFD requirements, and decoupling material consumption from value creation.

From market intelligence to circular economy value creation, our circular economy specialists can advise on industry-specific circular guidelines for products, services and business models; and create momentum behind the development of circular economy coalitions and ventures. We support our clients to mitigate their risk, improve return on their investments, and unlock the value of circular practices.