Sustainable UCL


Circular Economy

What is a Circular Economy?

Simply put, the circular economy aims to dump (no pun intended), the traditional linear economy of make, use, dispose. It offers an alternative economy in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimising negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital.

circular economy

Embedding the Circular Economy into UCL

UCL will follow the principles of a circular economy from large tenders right down to individual purchases. We are working hard to embed the Circular Economy principles into all areas of our operations. These are some accomplishments so far:

  • Circular economy principles have been embedded into UCL’s Sustainable Building Standard, optimising resource use and the natural environment in our construction projects.
  • Through WARPit UCL reused 1000+ items in 2015/16 – Saving the equivalent amount of CO2 as planting 35 trees would have achieved.
  • UCL labs are able to share and reuse chemicals through rolling out the lab inventory software Quartzy.
  • Working with start-up company Bio-Bean, waste coffee grounds are collected from UCL cafes, and processed into biofuel.
  • We are promoting the use of reusable bottles to reduce the number of single use bottle being used on campus.

The Circular Economy Lab

UCL CircEL is an exciting cross-faculty, cross-discipline initiative, aiming to use UCL's expertise to develop the scientific and socio-economic understanding and technological basis for design and implementation of systems, processes and policy that will support the transition to a Circular Economy.  With access to the full width and depth of UCL expertise, CircEL will be capable of tackling Circular Economy-related problems of any size or stage of development.

View the Circular Economy Lab website for more details.

Institute of Making

The Institute of Making is a cross-disciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to diamonds, socks to cities. Staff and students can use this free resource to remake materials into new ones. To get involved visit the Institute of Making website.