For Immediate Release

Office of Press Relations

Press Release

Today, Unilever, USAID, and EY launched the CIRCLE Alliance, a new public-private collaboration to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across the plastics value chain to scale solutions that reduce plastic use, tackle plastic waste, and build thriving circular economies. With an initial, planned investment of $21 million, the initiative aims to protect the environment and improve livelihoods by supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses – including a focus on women, who make up the majority of waste collectors in the global south. The CIRCLE Alliance will initially focus on India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines and aims to scale and expand by bringing in new organizations and additional funds.  

The initiative was launched today by USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Unilever Chief Sustainability Officer Rebecca Marmot, and EY Global Vice Chair-Sustainability Amy Brachio, along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Dan Sullivan, the co-sponsors of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. 

Plastic pollution, a mounting global problem, impacts our environment, food security, and economies. According to the UN Environment Programme, an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year – a rate that is expected to triple in the next 20 years without urgent action. 

CIRCLE is supported by USAID’s EDGE Fund, a seed fund designed to leverage the private sector’s expertise in confronting some of the most significant challenges of our time, and by the GEEA Fund, which is committed to the advancement of economic security for women and girls by increasing their access to resources, services, and leadership opportunities and by addressing the barriers that limit their ability to participate fully in the economy. CIRCLE is part of the U.S. government-led Women in the Sustainable Economy (WISE) Initiative, which aims to bolster women’s economic empowerment globally by expanding access to employment, training, leadership roles, and financial resources in the industries critical to our future and the future of our planet.

The CIRCLE Alliance will be the flagship public-private collaboration under USAID’s Save Our Seas Initiative, a global initiative to combat ocean plastic pollution in support of the landmark Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020. Today’s event also marked the two-year anniversary of the Save Our Seas Initiative. 

To continue to bolster these efforts, Administrator Power highlighted that USAID plans to invest an additional $10.9 million in the Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program, USAID’s flagship program under the Save Our Seas Initiative. This funding includes a contribution of $750,000 from the Government of Norway and was previously announced for USAID’s Save Our Seas Initiative at the Our Ocean Conference and on Earth Day.

To date, USAID’s programs have prevented approximately 1.2 million metric tons of plastic from leaking into the environment (the equivalent of 127 billion plastic bottles), improved solid waste services for 11.3 million people, and catalyzed $138.7 million of private sector and public funding commitments for solid waste management and recycling.

save our seas initiative Our Ocean Conference 2024

The CIRCLE Alliance


The CIRCLE Alliance—Catalyzing Inclusive, Resilient, and Circular Local Economies—is a collaboration between the U.S. government and leading businesses to invest in solutions to reduce plastic use, tackle plastic waste, and drive the development of circular economies.

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