INSIGHT by Kyriakos Triantafyllidis, Head of Growth and Strategy, Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains, World Economic Forum; Tessa Bysong, Partner, Bain & Company; Josh Hinkel Senior Partner, Bain & Company. This article was originally published on the World Economic Forum.

Circular transformation brings a wide range of economic and environmental benefits.

Circular partnerships offer a scalable way to achieve sustainability with a range of different stakeholders.

We outline key examples of successful partnerships and three objectives to achieve similar results.


For decades, circularity has been recognized as a tool for sustainability, e.g. by reusing waste as a feedstock source or building longer lasting products. More recently, companies are starting to leverage circularity as a driver to achieve strategic business objectives including increased resilience, new revenue streams, and resource efficiency.

If circularity can result in such a wide variety of economic and environmental benefits, why has it not been scaled?


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Businesses are only incrementally progressing toward circularity, trying to re-optimize a linear model for circularity. However, systematic changes are needed to unleash the benefits of circular transformations. To support the necessary changes, we looked for and identified six enablers through a quantitative survey and discussions with leading executives in line with the Circular Transformation Framework.


What will success look like?

In the future, companies globally will face issues like raw materials scarcities and supply chain disruptions. Organizations like Rockwell, Sealed Air, and the GBA are taking action to scale circular models and best position themselves, as well as the entire value chain, for resiliency against these unavoidable future outcomes. Partnering with other companies throughout and beyond your value chain can provide the capabilities needed to accomplish circular transformation and obtain the wide range of associated benefits, both economic and sustainability.

To achieve similar results, we propose three practical next steps:

Clearly determine the structure of the multi-stakeholder ecosystem that you want: who needs to be included, and why?

Be precise in defining upfront the mechanisms for managing the partnership, e.g. incentives, decision rights, and new members.

Be well-prepared but start small, embedding in the model rapid iterations to grow, without over-preparing for a “big-bang” losing the opportunity to act.

It is pivotal to begin considering the partnerships you need to secure a more resilient and prosperous future. The World Economic Forum together with Bain & Company and the University of Cambridge is driving the Circular Transformation of Industries initiative to help companies start and scale-up their circular transformation.

Learn more and join the CTI initiative to begin taking steps towards a more circular future.