EMF Glossary of terms
2021, Ellen Macarthur Foundation
In order to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, it is vital we speak with a common voice, using a common language and definitions that can be used by all.
This glossary is designed to increase understanding of the circular economy. It includes definitions for commonly-used terms such as recycle, reverse logistics, and finite resources. It also explains the difference between virgin, non-virgin, and renewable materials, biological and technical cycles, and reuse, refurbishment, and remanufacturing.
The terms in the glossary can be applied to any sector of the economy.
By establishing a common language, and defining terms that are often misunderstood, the aim is to make it easier for businesses, policymakers, and cities to align on what the circular economy is and how they can adopt truly circular models.
It can be used to aid understanding within organisations, facilitate collaboration and conversations with others, and in reports, strategies, and communications materials.
The circular economy glossary was created in collaboration with IKEA, one of our Strategic Partners. It has been endorsed by our Strategic Partners DS Smith, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, Philips, ReLondon, and Solvay.