Putting people and skills at the core of the circular economy: 18 stories from social enterprises

by | Mar 27, 2023 | Publications

Our study “Putting people and skills at the core of the circular economy: 18 stories from social enterprises” is officially available today! Through this collection of stories and the extraction of conclusions from them, this report highlights the vital role that social enterprises play in upskilling and reskilling workers for a more circular economy, and reveals that a clear understanding of the skills needed in a circular economy is required in order to tailor training programs that ensure a balanced labor supply and demand.

Circularity can help extend the lifespan of existing products and materials and reduce CO2 emissions, however, there is very little research on how to rapidly upskill workers in a linear take-make-waste economy. This could potentially slow down the transition to a circular economy. Social enterprises have been engaged in the re-use and preparation for re-use of goods for decades, creating job opportunities and providing training for the most vulnerable members of our communities. The report shows that on average, a social enterprise creates 70 jobs per 1,000 tonnes of the goods and materials it collects with a view to being re-used.

The case studies featured within the study showcase the contribution of social enterprises to the development of circular skills, primarily among low-skilled and disadvantaged individuals. The aim is to cast light on the important role such enterprises have to play in an inclusive and just circular transition.

Special thanks to Open Society Foundations for their valuable support in the creation of this study.