A new hub announced today will coordinate the national research effort to deliver a circular economy.
The National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub (CE-Hub) is led by the University of Exeter and supported with a £3.5 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment. It will look to offer solutions using fewer resources and reusing and recovering more materials.
The hub will work with the five centres recently announced to explore how reusing waste materials in a wide range of industries, including textiles, construction, chemical and metals, could deliver huge environmental benefits and boost the UK economy.
It will provide national leadership to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and coordinate across both the centres and the UK’s wider research and innovation landscape.
Both the hub and five centres form part of a £30 million UKRI programme to move the UK towards a circular economy.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
Building a circular economy that reduces waste and reuses products and materials will help us clean up our environment while enabling businesses to grow.
This new national hub will bring together some of our most talented researchers to work directly with industry, from construction to textiles, on their efforts to reuse waste and help boost the economy as we build back greener.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (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 National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub will be led by Professor Peter Hopkinson and Professor Fiona Charnley of the University of Exeter Business School.
Professor Charnley said:
The circular economy hub and wider programme provides a unique and timely opportunity to coordinate and accelerate interdisciplinary circular economy research at a national scale, positioning the UK as thought-leaders in this growing field.
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.
Professor Hopkinson said:
We need a complete system redesign of how resources are used.
The plastics economy, to give an example, has evolved over the last 50 years – 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 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 create 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.
The Hub forms part of the £30 million UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy programme, funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund, and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, Innovate UK and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In addition to the hub, UKRI is funding five £4.5 million interdisciplinary centres and providing £2.5 million of funding to enable small and medium enterprise involvement with the centres.