BlackRock and Ellen MacArthur Foundation launch circular economy fund

Circular arrows made of dollar banknotes
Circular arrows made of dollar banknotes.

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has launched its first circular economy fund as part of a new partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation designed to drive investment in the circular economy.

The announcement of the new partnership Oct 8 marks one of the first moves by a major investor to specifically target the expanding circular economy sector, which works to bolster resource efficiency and introduce new business models that enable circular resource flows.

BlackRock said its BGF Circular Economy Fund aims to drive investment in companies contributing to or benefiting from circular economy activities, excluding investments in the coal sector and oil and gas producers.

It will include "adopters," companies which are, for example, designing reusable or repairable products; "enablers" such as resale platforms; and "beneficiaries," such as firms that see more demand for their goods as a result of the shift away from single-use products.

Corporate interest in the circular economy is growing as the twin demands for climate action and reductions in plastic waste force firms to consider new businesses models based on reusable products. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is one of the world's most influential organizations working within this space, bringing together a host of blue chip corporates and environmental campaigners. 

Rachel Lord, head of EMEA at BlackRock, said companies are becoming more aware of their role in driving circular economy business models.

"To be well-positioned for the future, businesses are acknowledging that their long-term value is increasingly linked to their principles, practices and impact on society," she said. "Our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation allows us to potentially benefit from their knowledge and expertise to help create a thriving economy."

Evy Hambro, global head of thematic and sector investing at BlackRock, added that the move was aligned with the company's wider investment strategy. "We are focused on identifying structural growth themes and the circular economy is an ideal opportunity given that the shift is still in a nascent stage," he said. "Importantly, it is driven by global megatrends like combating climate change, resource scarcity, technological disruption and rapid urbanization."

The new fund is the latest in a series of moves by BlackRock designed to increase its exposure to green sectors and pressure companies to demonstrate a "purpose" beyond maximizing profits. 

However, the investment firm has drawn controversy for publicly supporting climate action while voting against climate-related shareholder proposals, when its interventions would have carried the proposal through.

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