Centre for circular economy research to open in the UK

The world’s first United Nations-backed International Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Resource Management in the Circular Economy will be established in the UK.  

Regulatory mechanisms such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and Deposit Return Schemes, are centred around the concept of the circular economy, which uses existing economic systems to encourage the regeneration of materials or products to promote sustainability.  

Well established EPR systems, for instance, may discourage the use of virgin materials in manufacturing by financially incentivising recycling and reuse at the top of the supply chain.  

A collaborative investment in a sustainable future 

Defra announced the new centre, which will formally open in April 2024 and brings together a number of academic institutions including University College London and the British Geological Survey. Defra states the institute will 'develop sustainable approaches to the circular economy and resource efficiency to enable carbon reduction and the transitions to a greener future’.  

Alongside UN funding, the five participating institutions have contributed £1.85 million to the centre’s formation and will focus on specific areas such as metals, critical minerals and construction. 

‘World-leading academic expertise’ 

The UK’s Resource Minister, Robbie Moore, has said of the announcement: 

“This is real recognition of the UK’s global leadership in sustainable resource management and testament to Britain’s world-leading academic expertise. 

We are delighted to host this centre, enabling our cutting-edge UK academics to develop the tools and research that will help countries across the world seize the opportunities of the circular economy, leading the way in the transition to a greener future.” 

In terms of wider government aims, in 2023 the  ‘Maximising Resources, Minimising Waste’ plan was announced which laid out ambitions to increase UK recycling, repair and reuse together with government funded measures to boost the circular economy, of which the new centre could help achieve. 

Written by Louisa Goodfellow Published 05/03/2024 Topics Sustainability
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