The government has awarded £22.5 million in funding to five research centres in London, Loughborough and Exeter aiming to reduce waste and boost recycling.
The research centres will explore how the reuse of waste materials in the textiles, construction, chemicals, transport, electronics and metal industries can protect the environment and boost the economy.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We want to further the UK’s status as a world-leader in finding green solutions to industrial challenges, and projects like these are excellent examples of placing manufacturers at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.
“I am pleased to support these new cutting-edge research centres that will transform the way industry reuses and recycles materials – another great step forward as we build back greener from coronavirus and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”
The Interdisciplinary Circular Economy
Centres are funded by the government as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strategic Priorities fund. In addition to the UKRI government investment, £11.2 million of funding and ‘in-kind support’ will be provided by external partners, alongside support from host universities.
The government says the better reuse and recycling techniques developed by the centres will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve natural resources and provide new opportunities for UK industries.
Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres
One of the five new centres, the Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials led by University College London, will develop more efficient use and recovery of mineral materials such as construction stones, cement and brick. The government claims its research could stop the generation of 154 million tonnes of mineral waste each year, enough to fill 30,000-Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“These new cutting-edge research centres will transform the way industry reuses and recycles materials”
Another of the centres, the Interdisciplinary Textiles Circularity Centre led by the Royal College of Art, aims to lessen the environmental impact of clothing in the UK by using household waste and used fabrics to develop new textiles. Emissions from the UK’s textiles industry alone are almost as high as those from cars used for private trips, the government says. It estimates that £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year.
Research by economists at independent think tank Green Alliance and resources charity WRAP has shown that expanding the circular economy could create up to 500,000 gross jobs by 2030, the government says.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “Creating a more circular economy for our waste and resources lies at the heart of this government’s transformative agenda for the environment, and we are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse and recycle more of our resources – with strong measures to enable this coming forward in our landmark environment bill.
“These new research centres will play a vital part in creating a cleaner and more sustainable economy and help us to better protect the environment for the next generation.”