Dr Pauline Deutz, project co-ordinator from the University of Hull, said: “This is a major policy strategy within the EU around resource and recycling. It’s about changing the way things are designed so they are easier to recycle, last longer or are not made with toxic matter. This involves building new relationships between companies, governmental bodies and the public to find ways of being cleverer in the use of resources than we currently are. There could be enormous implications for the geographies of employment and economic development too, with new opportunities arising but others also disappearing.”
The four-year project also includes 15 partner organisations located in ten different countries across the EU and beyond. Partners include WRAP - a not for profit organisation which works with governments, businesses and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably; Hull City Council; EMS Ltd, an award winning Hull-based charity; the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment; and the universities of Nanjing, China, and Ibadan, Nigeria. Other partners include companies involved in manufacturing, waste management and IT solutions for the circular economy. Each researcher will be seconded to one or more partners for first-hand experience of working in an organisation striving to develop the circular economy from its own perspective.
Dr Deutz said: “What is unique about what this project is that we are trying to understand the implications of the circular economy. There is a lot of research into separate components of building a circular economy, such as design and recycling, but far fewer people working on how they fit together and what these changes might mean to the economy or for society.”
The implications of building a circular economy also have an impact on climate change.
Dr Deutz said: “If we are more effective in what we use then there can be carbon savings, but more attention needs to be paid to measuring the impacts of different approaches to resource efficiency. The most appropriate option will vary for different materials and different locations. There are potentially huge savings to be made in terms of money by using less resources, but there are also huge consequences in terms of helping the environment.”
Universities involved in the project include the universities of Graz, Austria; Utrecht, Netherlands; Messina and University “G. d’Annunzio” Pescara, Italy; Aberta and New University of Lisbon, Portugal; and the University of Technology Troyes, France in addition to the University of Hull. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765198.
For more information about the project, please visit the Cresting website and follow @crestingITN