UN-backed centre for circular economy research to be launched

The government has announced that it will establish the “world’s first” ‘international centre of excellence for sustainable resource management in the circular economy’.

The project is backed by a combined contribution of £1.85 million from five universities, including UCL (pictured)

The centre will be backed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and recognise “British academic expertise” and research, supported by a combined contribution of £1.85 million from the participating institutions.

Defra outlined that the centre will develop sustainable approaches to the circular economy and resource efficiency to enable carbon reduction and the transition to a greener future. The UK will also “help countries across the world to maximise the environmental and economic opportunities the circular economy offers”.

The centre is scheduled to open in April 2024, and compromises of five universities: University College London, University of Exeter, Brunel University London, Swansea University, and the British Geological Survey.

Their aim is to advance impactful solutions for circularity through the development of data, technological innovation, financial models, and policy frameworks.

Global leadership

Resources minister, Robbie Moore said: “This is real recognition of the UK’s global leadership in sustainable resource management and testament to Britain’s world-leading academic expertise.

Robbie Moore MP now has responsibility for resources and waste

“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.”


This comes after in July 2023, the UK government announced plans setting out its long-term aim to use fewer new resources, drive up the repair and reuse of existing materials and increase recycling.

The programme – Maximising Resources, Minimising Waste – brings together a range of measures backed by government funding which will help to keep products and materials in circulation for as long as possible and at their highest value, including through increasing reuse, repair and remanufacture, helping to grow the economy and boost employment.

I welcome the establishment of this centre, with its focus on circularity of metals

  • Tatiana Molcean, UN

Sustainable development

The UN Economic Commission for Europe’s executive secretary, Tatiana Molcean said: “Making the use of our resources more sustainable and moving towards a circular economy is fundamental to sustainable development and climate action.

“Partnerships mobilising international expertise play an important role in UN cooperation to develop and share best practices. I welcome the establishment of this new Centre of Excellence, with its focus on circularity of metals, construction, and critical raw materials.”

Defra outlined that the centre will “draw heavily on the success” of several of the partner institutions in the National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research  research and development programme, a four-year £30 million investment established by Defra’s chief scientist in 2019 under the UK Government’s strategic priorities fund.

Share this article with others

Subscribe for free

Subscribe to receive our newsletters and to leave comments.

Back to top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest waste and recycling news straight to your inbox.