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Biobased materials refer to products that mainly consist of a substance (or substances) derived from living matter (biomass) and either occur naturally or are synthesized, or it may refer to products made by processes that use biomass. Following a strict definition, many common materials, such as paper, wood, and leather, can be referred to as biobased materials, but typically, the term refers to modern materials that have undergone more extensive processing. Materials from biomass sources include bulk chemicals, platform chemicals, solvents, polymers, and biocomposites (some materials may fall under more than one category).
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Capable of decomposing rapidly by microorganisms under natural conditions (aerobic and/or anaerobic). Most organic materials, such as food scraps and paper are biodegradable.
European Environment Agency
Biodiversity refers to the variety of living species on Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi.
Biological Cycle
The processes - such as composting and anaerobic digestion - that together help to regenerate natural capital. The only materials suitable for these processes are those that can be safely returned to the biosphere.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Bioplastics are not just one single material. Instead, they comprise of a whole family of materials with differing properties and applications. A plastic material is defined as a bioplastic if it is either bio-based, biodegradable, or features both properties.
European Bioplastics
Botanical Dyes
Plants have been used for natural dyeing since before recorded history. The staining properties of plants were noted by humans and have been used to obtain and retain these colors from plants throughout history. Natural dye materials produce durable, strong colors and do not require the addition of other substances to obtain the desired outcome are called substantive or direct dyes.
United States Department of Agriculture
COP stands for the "Conference of Parties," the annual UN Climate Change Conference, which brings together countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and is the main decision-making body on the convention and its efforts towards combatting climate change.
United Nations Climate Change Conference UK 2021
Carbon Footprint
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the production, use, and end-of-life of a product or service.
New York Times
Carbon Negative
Carbon Negative requires a company, sector or country to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits
International Energy Agency
Carbon Neutral
Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks.
European Parliament
Carbon Offset
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for (“offset”) an emission made elsewhere. The Carbon Offset scheme allows individuals and companies to fund environmental projects worldwide to compensate for emissions created.
Carbon capture
Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), also referred to as carbon capture, utilization and sequestration, is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide storage in geologic formations includes oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams and deep saline reservoirs -- structures that have stored crude oil, natural gas, brine and carbon dioxide over millions of years.
United States Department of Energy
Circular Design
Circular design takes into account the reusability of products and materials. It requires us to redesign everything: products, business models, cities, and the linear systems that have lasted for the past centuries in the fight again the harmful fashion industry
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Circular Economy
A circular economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy, where resources are taken, made into products, used, and then discarded (take-make-waste). A circular economy better manages resources to reduce waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and out of the landfill, and regenerate natural systems.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Circular Material
Circular materials underpin a circular economy by keeping the matter that makes up materials in use as products longer and maximizing matter’s regeneration into high-value products at the product’s end of life. Circular materials are materials used in products that are reused and recycled into new products throughout the materials life cycle
Georga Tech University: Renewable Bioproducts Institute
Clean Beauty
Clean Beauty means that a beauty product should have considered human and environmental health, using a nontoxic element as a baseline and plant-based ingredients for active results.
Harpers Bazaar
Climate Change
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
United Nations
Climate Crisis
Climate crisis is defined as the emergency situation around climate change and global warming, and their impacts. It is characterized by looming irreversibility and threat to the global climate and humanity if countermeasures are not taken. Methane and Carbon dioxide are two of the largest contributors to increased greenhouse gasses that catalyze climate change and global warming.
UN Environment Programme
Climate Tech
Climate tech is defined as technologies that are explicitly focused on reducing GHG emissions, or addressing the impacts of global warming. Climate tech applications can be grouped into three broad sector-agnostic groups—those that: Directly mitigate or remove emissions, Help us to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and Enhance our understanding of the climate.
PwC State of Climate Tech 2021
Closed-loop System
A closed loop system is one in which products are designed, manufactured, used and handled so as to circulate within society for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum adverse environmental impacts, minimum waste generation, and with the most efficient use of water, energy and other resources throughout their lifecycles.
"Closed-loop production systems—A sustainable supply chain approach"
Microbial breakdown of organic matter in the presence of oxygen. In a circular economy, composting can be used to convert food by-products and other biodegradeable materials into compost, which can be used as a soil enhancer.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Conscious Beauty
Conscious Beauty is being more mindful of the actions and core beliefs of brands to make sure the brands' values align with our own. Conscious Beauty includes six pillars: Inclusivity, Sustainability, Ingredients and Ethical Sourcing, Transparency, Impact, and Brand story.
Conscious Consumer
Conscious consumption means engaging in the economy with more awareness of how your consumption impacts society at large. At ConsiderBeyond, we define a conscious consumer as who considers what happens before, during, and after their purchases. Conscious consumers are more aware of how their consumption impacts our society and the environment. One of the ways to be a more conscious consumer is to shop for products and services that have a more positive social and environmental impact than negative. Conscious consumers are on the rise regardless of demographics and age, and they are demanding companies be more responsible.
New York Times Article
Conscious Consumption
Conscious consumption means engaging in the economy with more awareness of how your consumption impacts society at large.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) is the idea that a business has a responsibility to the society that exists around it. Corporations are conducting business in a manner that empowers them to be and act in a socially responsible way that makes a positive impact on the world. Socially responsible organizations are often guided by the Triple Bottom Line.
Harvard Business School
Cradle to Cradle
Cradle to cradle can be defined as the design and production of products of all types in such a way that at the end of their life, they can be truly recycled (upcycled), imitating nature’s cycle with everything either recycled or returned to the earth, directly or indirectly through food, as a completely safe, nontoxic, and biodegradable nutrient.
Encyclopedia of Social Responsibility
Cruelty-free items are not tested on animals. The Leaping Bunny Program certifies a product as 100% cruelty-free if it has no new animal testing in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers.
Leaping Bunny
Deadstock is an amount of a product that a company has bought or made but is unable to sell.
Cambridge Dictionary
Decarbonization is all measures through which a business sector, or an entity – a government, an organisation – reduces its carbon footprint, primarily its greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), in order to reduce its impact on the climate.
Deforestation is the clearing of forests for the use of land for agriculture and animal grazing, trees for timber, manufacturing, and construction. Deforestation can result in an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as trees naturally take in CO2 through photosynthesis. Slash and Burn agriculture which contributes largely to deforestation, results in more carbon dioxide being released into the air when the trees are burned. Deforestation also threatens the world's biodiversity as many forests, particularly rainforests, are home to a great number of animal and plant species.
National Geographic
Degrowth is an economic theory introduced in the 1970s which argues for the shrinking or degrowing of world economies to preserve the world's declining resources.
World Economic Forum
Downcycling is a process where unused products are used to produce items of lower quality.
Busch Systems
The ability of a product, component or material to remain functional and relevant when used as intended. Durability often applies to the physical attributes of a product (its ability to resist damage and wear), though with some products durability can be technological (for example the ability of software to be upgraded many times), and it can be emotional (for example the ability of certain clothes to stay desirable over time).
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
ESG Investing
ESG investing stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance Investing. It is investing in companies that score highly on environmental and societal responsibility measures as determined by independent third-party companies and research groups. More investors are applying ESG factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth opportunities.
CFA Institute
Eco-friendly packaging is made with greener materials and typically involves using recycled materials or biodegradable materials. When compared to traditional packaging materials, eco-packaging requires significantly less energy and carbon footprint.
An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life. All parts of an ecosystem are interconnected so if one part is affected all other parts are directly or indirectly affected through a domino effect.
National Geographic
End of Life
End of Life referred when the product no longer satisfies the last user of the product at end-of-use. End of Life can also refer to the first user of the product who may use strategies to prolong the life of the product. Some End of Life recovery strategies include Remanufacture, Repair, Recondition, Repurpose, Cannibalization, Redesign, Refurbish, Upgrading, and Recycle.
"Circular economy assessment tool for end of life product recovery strategies"
Environmental Footprint
Environmental Footprint also referred to as Ecological Footprint is something that we all have! It is the amount of the environment necessary to produce the goods and services necessary to support a particular lifestyle or we sometimes think of it as the amount of impact our individual activities have had on the environment
World Wildlife Fund
Environmental Protection
Environmental protection is efforts made to maintain and restore the quality of the natural environment through preventing the emission of pollutants or reducing the presence of pollutants in the environment.
Fair Labour
Fair Trade
“Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first.” By attaining Fair Trade Certification, it means that the brand provides safe working conditions and sustainable livelihoods to their workers, supports environmental protection, and contributes to community development funds.
Fair Trade Certified
Finite Materials
Materials that are non-renewable on timescales relevant to the economy, i.e. not geological timescales. Examples include: metals and minerals; fossil forms of carbon such as oil, coal, and natural gas; and sand, rocks, and stones.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
GHG (Greenhouse Gas)
A gas that contributes to the natural greenhouse effect. The Kyoto Protocol covers a basket of six greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by human activities: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulpfur hexafluoride.
European Energy Agency
Global Warming
Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s surface observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.
Green Chemistry
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.
European Environment Agency
Companies giving a false impression of their environmental impact or benefits. Greenwashing misleads market actors and does not give due advantage to those companies that are making the effort to green their products and activities.
European Commission
Impact Assessment
The SDG Impact Assessment Tool is a free, online resource for research and educational institutions, companies, entrepreneurs, civic organizations, and public agencies to make self-assessments of impacts on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable Development Solutions Network
Impact Investing
Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
GIIN (Global Impact Investing Network)
Infinitely Recyclable
Infinitely Recyclable refers to materials that can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality. The main example of this is the newly invented plastic, poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, which has all the convenient properties of traditional plastics while avoiding the environmental pitfalls.
Berkeley Lab
LCA (Life Cycle Assessment)
Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a process of evaluating the effects that a product has on the environment over the entire period of its life thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and decreasing liabilities.
European Environment Agency
Landfills are locations where disposable materials are sent, which are then buried underground. During this process, precautions are taken to prevent the Waste from reaching and potentially contaminating any groundwater.
Busch Systems
The period of time from when a product is released for use after manufacture to the moment it becomes obsolete beyond recovery at product level.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Linear Economy
An economy in which finite resources are extracted to make products that are used - generally not to their full potential - and then thrown away ('take-make-waste'). It is a wasteful and polluting system that degrades natural systems.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Linear Material
The traditional model where raw materials are collected and transformed into products that consumers use until discarding them as waste, with no concern for their ecological footprint and consequences. It prioritizes profit over sustainability, with products made to be thrown away once they’ve been used.
Living Wage
The remuneration received for a standard workweek by a worker in a particular place sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and her or his family. Elements of a decent standard of living include food, water, housing, education, health care, transportation, clothing, and other essential needs including provision for unexpected events.
Global Living Wage Coalition
Material obtained from a defined radius around a project site, helping to support the local economy and reducing transportation costs and energy
European Economic and Social Committee
Low-impact development or products are designed to minimize negative impacts on the environment.
Institute of The Environment University of Connecticut
Microfibre Pollution
The majority of clothing on the planet is made from plastic-based materials like polyester, rayon, nylon, and acrylic. When washed, synthetic clothing sheds tiny plastic fragments known as microfibers. Microfibers are the most prevalent type of microplastic (plastic pieces less than 5 mm in diameter) found in the environment. Microfibers can harm the small aquatic organisms that ingest them. Microfibers can also contain toxic chemicals that are intentionally added to textiles during the manufacturing process or that accumulate on plastic particles in the ocean.
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that result from both commercial product development and the breakdown of larger plastics. As a pollutant, microplastics can be harmful to the environment and animal health.
National Geographic
Natural Fibres
Natural fibers are sustainable materials which are easily available in nature and have advantages like low-cost, lightweight, renewability, biodegradability and high specific properties.
Harvard University
Natural Materials
Any materials that come from plants or animals, or that are extracted from the ground, are classed as natural. The amount of processing needed can vary greatly depending on the specific material and the intended purpose. Heavy processing and transportation negatively affects the environmental impact of natural materials, as well as irresponsible and unregulated extraction, mining, harvesting and farming.
Net zero
Net zero refers to a state in which the greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere are balanced by removal out of the atmosphere.
Net Zero Climate
Non-GMO means a product was produced without genetic engineering which includes any process in which genetic material is artificially manipulated in a laboratory, and may involve creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Non-GMO Verified Project
Non-renewable Resources
Natural resource that exists in a fixed amount and cannot be replenished on a human time scale
European Economic and Social Committee
Non-virgin Materials
Materials that have been previously used. This includes: materials in products that have been reused, refurbished or repaired; components that have been remanufactured; materials that have been recycled. Also referred to as secondary materials.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Organic ingredients are grown without using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. USDA National Organic Program (NOP) verifies products with more than 95% organic ingredients. These are the four different organic labeling categories set by the USDA NOP for agricultural products and eligible cosmetics and personal care products: ‍ “100 percent organic”: The product must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and may display the USDA Organic Seal. “Organic”: The product must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt), with the remaining 5% of ingredients being nonagricultural substances approved on the National list or agricultural products that aren’t commercially available in organic form. These products may display the USDA Organic Seal. “Made with organic ingredients”: Products contain at least 70% organic ingredients (excluding water and salt), and the label can list up to three organic ingredients on the display panel. These products may not display the USDA Organic Seal. Less than 70% organic ingredients: Products cannot use the term “organic” on the principal display panel but can identify specific ingredients that are organic on the ingredients. These products may not display the USDA Organic Seal.
PCR (Post-consumer Recycled)
Post-consumer recycled material refers to everything we put into the recycling bin, such as empty plastic bottles or aluminum cans.
Sustainable Packaging Coalition
The ease with which a material can be recycled in practice and at scale.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Divert a product from its intended market to another customer so it is used at high value instead of becoming waste. For example, a supermarket can redistribute surplus edible food to a food-bank.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Return a product to good working order. This can include repairing or replacing components, updating specifications, and improving cosmetic appearance.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Regenerative production
Regenerative production provides food and materials in ways that support positive outcomes for nature, which include but are not limited to: healthy and stable soils, improved local biodiversity, improved air and water quality. In agriculture, regenerative production schools of thought include agroecology, agroforestry, and conservation agriculture.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Re-engineer products and components to as-new condition with the same, or improved, level of performance as a newly manufactured one. Remanufactured products or components are typically provided with a warranty that is equivalent to or better than that of the newly manufactured product.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Renewable Energy
Energy derived from resources that are not depleted on timescales relevant to the economy, i.e. not geological timescales. Examples include: wind, solar, hydropower, hydrothermal, ocean (wave and tidal), geothermal, and biogas from anaerobic digestion.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Renewable Materials
Materials that are continually replenished at a rate equal to or greater than the rate of depletion. Examples include: cotton, hemp, maize, wood, wool, leather, agricultural by-products, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and sea salt. To fit in a circular economy such materials (where relevant) must be produced using regenerative production practices.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Operation by which a faulty or broken product or component is returned back to a usable state to fulfil its intended use.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The ease with which a product or component can be repaired.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The repeated use of a product or component for its intended purpose without significant modification. Small adjustments and cleaning of the component or product may be necessary to prepare for the next use.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Reverse Logistics
Supply chains dedicated to the reverse flow of products and materials for the purpose of maintenance, repair, reuse, refurbishment, remanufacture, recycling, or regenerating natural systems.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The use of a product by multiple users. It is a practice that retains the highest value of a product by extending its use period.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Single-use items or disposable items are products and packaging that we throw out after only one use. These items are used for only minutes but their impact on our environment can last thousands of years.
Sustainability Victoria
Slow Fashion
Slow fashion is producing clothes with trendless designs and premium, long-lasting quality to push again fast fashion, which causes large amounts of waste each year
Social Inclusion
Social Inclusion is the process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of disadvantaged groups based on their identity to take part in society, creating equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background.
World Bank
Sustainability is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable practices look at finding ways to grow responsibly in the long term.
UN World Commission
Sustainable Economic Growth
Sustainable Economic Growth is the increase and maintenance of economic capacity through decreased unemployment, inclusive and decent work that is productive and delivers fair income, security in the workplace and social protections for families, better prospects for personal development, and social integration
UN Sustainable Development
Technical Cycle
The processes that products and materials flow through in order to maintain their highest possible value at all times. Materials suitable for these processes are those that are not consumed during use - such as metals, plastics and wood. In the technical cycle the opportunities to maintain and generate value come through retaining the greatest proportion of the energy and labour embedded in the product. This is achieved, in order of value, by: maintaining, prolonging, sharing; reusing and redistributing; refurbishing and remanufacturing; and recycling.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Traceability is the ability to access any or all information about a product throughout its life cycle by using a system of recorded identifications. Traceability also relates to the ability to track and trace along the supply chain.
International Institute for Sustainable Development
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health and Well-Being, 4. Quality Education, 5. Gender Equality, 6. Clean Water and Sanitation, 7. Affordable and clean energy, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, 10. Reduced Inequalities, 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 13. Climate Action, 14. Life Below Water, 15. Life on Land, 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, 17. Partnerships
United Nations Development Programme
Upcycling means to use a certain material again, but in a manner different than what it was originally intended for. Recycling is the process of recovering material from waste and turning it into new products.
Value Chain
A Value Chain is the full lifecycle of a product or process, including material sourcing, production, consumption, and disposal/recycling processes.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Vegan means that the product does not include any animal-derived ingredients or tested on any animals
Certified Vegan
Virgin Materials
Materials that have not yet been used in the economy. These include both finite materials (e.g. iron ore mined from the ground) and renewable resources (e.g. newly produced cotton).
Ellen MacArthur Foundation