UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


UCL ISR contributes to new circular economy research centres funded by UKRI

13 November 2020

Researchers from the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources are involved in new circular economy research centres funded by the UK Government to help reduce waste, energy and pollution in UK industries.

metal cogs

Through £22.5 million of investment, the government is establishing five UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres to drive sustainability in the textiles, construction, chemical and metal industries.

Professor Raimund Bleischwitz , Dr Alvaro Calzdailla Rivera  and Dr Teresa Domenech from the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources are involved with the Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials led by Professor Julia Stegemann (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering). This centre aims to develop systems and technologies for more efficient use and recovery of mineral resources. 

Professor Stegemann said:

The UK extracts more than half a million tonnes of construction materials each day, and generates 154 million tonnes of mineral wastes annually.  This is  unsustainable.  With UK plans to spend £600 billion to build infrastructure in the next decade, we need to find a way to be more efficient. The three challenges of our centre are: to understand how we use mineral-based construction materials, for better housekeeping; to develop technologies that allow us to recover materials and reduce their environmental impacts; and to develop business, design, financial and policy tools, to enable change.”

The centre brings together 14 UCL researchers across nine departments through the cross-faculty UCL Circular Economy Lab, CircEL, founded by UCL Engineering and the Bartlett, the UCL Faculty for the Built Environment. In addition to £4.5 million from UKRI, it will be supported by £1.9 million from more than 40 industrial collaborators, and more than £2 million from its university partners.

Professor Stegemann said:

In making our plans for the centre, we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our collaborators in the construction industry. Industry and government are making a huge investment in modernisation of the industry, mainly for efficiency, and we need to use the opportunity to also embed circularity, alongside the UK’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”


Professor Bleischwitz and Dr Calzdailla Rivera are also involved in the new Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals led by Brunel University London. This centre will look at how metals can be recycled for use in sectors such as aerospace, automotive and electronics and aims to make the UK the first country to fully circulate metals by 2050.

Professor Raimund Bleischwitz said:

Better resource efficiency in this sector could contribute more than £100 billion to the UK economy over the next decade. Our analysis will help understand the wider economic impacts.”

The Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres are funded by UKRI through the Strategic Priorities fund, established in 2018.



Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash