Steps towards a Circular Economy

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A National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub (CE-Hub) has been announced which will coordinate research efforts to deliver what is described as a ‘circular economy.’

Building a circular economy is vital to modern eco-sensitive society. Such economies reduce waste and reuse products and materials that help us clean up our environment while enabling businesses to grow.

The CE-Hub is led by the University of Exeter and supported with a £3.5 million UKRI investment. The hub will work with five interdisciplinary centres, each with funding of £4.5 million. These will explore how waste materials can be reused in a wide range of industries including textiles, construction, chemical and metals.

The hub and the five centres form part of a £30 million UKRI interdisciplinary Circular Economy programme involving all the Research Councils, Innovate UK and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs to move the UK towards a more reusable and sustainable environment. Additionally, £2.5 million of funding will be made available to enable small and medium enterprise involvement with the centres.

Speaking for EPSRC, Executive Chair, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said, “The National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub will play a crucial role in coordinating research across the UK that will help us to deliver a circular economy. By effecting a step-change in how we use and reuse resources, the move to a circular economy will deliver major environmental and economic benefits and is an essential element of making Net Zero a reality.”

The CE-Hub will be led by Professors Peter Hopkinson and Fiona Charnley, University of Exeter Business School. Professor Charnley said, “The circular economy hub and wider programme will provide a unique and timely opportunity to coordinate and accelerate interdisciplinary circular economy research at a national scale.”

Professor Peter Hopkinson said, “As a country, we need to radically change how we use resources and by bringing together and harnessing expertise from academia, business and government we can enable that transformation. We need a complete system redesign of how resources are used. Time is of the essence, the plastics economy for example, had taken over 50 years to evolve to where it is today, but we can’t wait that long to build a better system, which will only be possible if all stakeholders are pulling in the same direction”.

The new hub will develop and deliver the UK’s first national circular economy observatory, which will improve the provision and quality of data, providing a source of evidence for the UK’s road map towards a circular economy.

It will be tasked with creating a repository of national research, knowledge, and tools to inform new research, policy, and industry solutions, facilitating collaboration across a wide range of sectors, and strengthening a UK-wide community dedicated to delivering a circular economy.

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