" /> Circular Economy — Edinburgh Innovations

Circular economy

The University of Edinburgh’s world-leading research capabilities can support your organisation to move to the circular economy model, creating sustainable, efficient business.

We can help with the development and adoption of a circular model that provides fresh thinking on all stages of the manufacturing process, facilitating a shift towards new organisational behaviour.

We work closely with our industry partners to:

  • understand the demands of a circular economy and the challenges it presents
  • create and apply novel technologies that support businesses to overcome these challenges
  • accelerate the growth and innovative nature of their business

With the challenges of adopting circular economy principles being so varied in scope, we understand that the solutions will vary from organisation to organisation. In collaboration with the University of Edinburgh you can open the doors to new ways of working.

Key areas of expertise

Staff Bootcamp

Design and manufacture

  • Sustainable design for durability, recovery and easy repair.
  • Upgrades for products and Building design for sustainability.
  • More efficient processing through the design of new high value chemicals and catalysts.
  • Rapid prototyping of new products coupled with expert advice.
  • Modelling and Simulation of manufacturing processes – understanding the current and designing the new.
  • Education for sustainability in design and technology.

Retail and consumers

  • The use of big data to increase knowledge and foresight and support decision making.
  • Facilitating consumer acceptance and simplifying interactions between technologies and users.
  • Urban energy governance.
  • Understanding consumer behaviours with our social science research.
  • EPCC, a leading European centre for high-performance computing, advanced research and technology.

Reuse, recycling and recovery

  • Retrofitting for sustainability.
  • Waste water engineering and treatment.
  • Finding value in waste products through our expertise in bioremediation and biochar production.
  • Material reuse in construction for lightweight building components.
  • Home to SynthSys, the centre bringing together research in synthetic and systems biology to solve the challenges facing industrial biotechnology, clinical medicine and agriculture.

Facilities at the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is host to an extensive range of facilities, equipment and expertise which can be accessed by companies and organisations for in-house projects. Find out how to access the facilities, equipment and expertise at the University, or to discuss a particular project in greater depth.

Explore all facilities in the College of Science and Engineering


Facilities available at the University of Edinburgh for circular economy

Synthsys (Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology):


  • Edinburgh Genome Foundry
  • Kinetic Parameter Facility
  • Laser Enabled Analysis and Processing (LEAP)
  • Single cell analysis and microscopy
  • Plant phenomics
  • Data management and models
  • Chemical translational biology

Pyrochemical Research Lab

    • Advanced equipment for research in molten salt pyrochemical processing
    • Suite of interconnected controlled atmosphere dry-boxes equipped with furnaces, cell systems, potentiostats and other equipment for characterisation and development of essential elements
    • Demonstrate individual component or a complete pyrochemical process including monitoring and analysis
    • Unique facilities to develop and demonstrate integrated pyrochemical reprocessing of nuclear fuel, along with the required process monitoring


Read about our current projects and success stories 

Bioremediation in Drinks Production

Dr Louise Horsfall is collaborating with drinks producer Diageo to use biological techniques to turn environmentally hazardous copper ions in distillery waste into copper nanoparticles that can be recovered and used in various industrial applications.

Innovative Construction Methods

Professor Remo Pedreschi is working with SME Martec Engineering to demonstrate the feasibility of an innovative, lightweight roof structural system: a combination of thin steel with recycled plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) into a composite construction, fabricated using simple techniques. It outperforms timber systems and can reduce the weight of attic roofs by 25%.

Biochar from Secondary Biomass

Building on expertise in production and characterisation of biochar (soil-enhancing charcoal), the UK Biochar Research Centre has created two tonnes of 10 Standard Biochar materials from virgin biomass feedstock. These materials are rapidly being adopted by the global research community. A project supported by NERC Impact funding and Scottish Water will create two more Standard Biochar materials from sewage sludge.

Contact us to find out how we can help