Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials


Inside the Environment Agency

1 July 2022

Picture of site with construction workers

A review by Dr Feja Lesniewska

Within six months of joining the UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials as a Research Fellow I began a secondment with the Environment Agency (EA). I received support from the ESPRC IAA enterprise secondment fund for a 3.5-month period between December 2021 until March 2022.

The Environment Agency is the regulatory body for England that implements and enforces environment related law. There are separate bodies in the devolved administrations: in Northern Ireland, the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Natural Resource Wales (NRW) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

My research project aims to identify opportunities to use regulation, standards, and policy to enable an increase in the circularity of mineral based construction materials. Having the opportunity to work alongside experts within England’s primary environmental regulatory body was a great place to orientate my early research for the project. 

Since the withdrawal from the European Union environmental law in the UK is going through a period of review and reform. The regulations being reviewed include those relating to the mineral based construction sector from upstream production processes and permitting requirements to downstream end of waste, exploring opportunities to create markets for secondary materials extend the lifecycle of resource use.

Being directly involved, albeit virtually due to COVID restrictions, in current developments to review regulations provided me with valuable learning and insights, not only of how issues are addressed by staff but also the challenges they face in their day-to-day work. This was especially clear from the online workshops I ran with over twenty participants from the EA, as well as representatives from the DAERA, NRW, and SEPA, to identify the challenges and opportunities to moving to a circular economy under existing UK regulations. Valuable data gathered from these workshops will be used in ongoing research for my project

Read more about Feja's research in Focus Area 3E: Standards, Policies & Regulations