Opened in 2018, our £30 million Circular Economy Hub is spearheading the UK’s strategy to create a sustainable, circular economy that uses fewer resources and reuses more waste materials. Based in our Business School, it’s a dynamic platform for the national research, knowledge and tools that are informing new research, policy and industry solutions.
Working across five circular economy centres, we’re exploring how reusing waste materials in the textiles, construction, chemical and metals industries can both boost the UK economy and deliver incredible environmental benefits.
We’re providing the national leadership that helping industry to work hand in hand with the UK’s research and innovation landscape, moving us all closer to a circular economy. We’re informed by the data and evidence that is creating a road map the extends the lifecycle of materials through reuse, repair and recycling.
Our Multidisciplinary Plastics Research Hub (ExeMPLaR) is also one of eight prestigious research projects across the UK, with researchers investigating alternatives to fossil-based materials for plastics, as well as looking into the complex factors involved in the life cycle of plastic materials, from consumers’ and business’ needs and behaviours, to how to use technology to reclaim or break down plastics.
ExeMPLaR has also developed a tool to estimate how much ‘invisible plastic’ is in our homes – the key to calculating our household plastic footprint and designing a better future circular economy. With plastic consumption predicted to increase 50% by 2030, our work is informing the major investments and shaping the networks that transform future system design.
Our sustainability experts have also been working with the NHS to replace single-use PPE with more environmentally-friendly alternatives. NHS workers use more than one billion single-use masks a year, creating plastic waste and posing an ethical dilemma around how saving lives has a harmful impact on the planet. We’re working with the Revolution-ZERO initiative to help design zero-carbon, zero-waste targeted PPE at lower cost than disposable alternatives.
We’re also working with 25 leading beach cleaning organisations across the UK to explore the difficulties of data collection and improve sharing. By understanding data collection, we can create opportunities to enhance collaboration and help plan strategies to reduce plastic pollution and the impact on the marine environment.
It’s a key area identified by government to produce less carbon intensive products and our work is addressing the devastating effects of plastic waste on the environment, biodiversity and the food chain, taking us towards a cleaner, greener economy and putting the UK at the forefront of the innovations and products that will be in high demand around the world.