Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is about transitioning from a ‘take-make-dispose’ linear approach to resource use, to systems that encourage reuse and extraction of maximum value before returning resources to the biosphere.

Our expertise in the circular economy helps to create innovative solutions that enable businesses to thrive and to support the transition to a more regenerative, green economy.

Circular Economy Centre - Scotland’s centre for circular economy expertise

The University of Edinburgh is a leading hub for circular knowledge and innovation. We work together with businesses and other organisations to accelerate the transition to a circular economy by providing access to world-leading research, education and innovation support.

We work closely with our partners to:

  • foster effective collaboration between academia and industry
  • inspire business and other organisations to embrace circular economy opportunities and benefits by showcasing the best examples of innovation in action
  • engage academics, students, business and others to identify and respond to key challenges and opportunities in the transition to a circular economy
  • enable our clients and partners to achieve transformational change in the circular economy by supporting the development and commercialisation ideas through our end-to-end innovation support and exceptional networks

Wherever you want to go in the circular economy, we will help you to get there by providing first-class research and innovation support, education and skills development opportunities, and networking prospects. Together we can help your business to thrive over the long term and deliver a positive impact locally, regionally and globally.

Key areas of expertise

Our wide-ranging research expertise means that we are ideally placed to understand complex challenges associated with the transition to a more regenerative economy and to work with others to develop innovative solutions.

Rethinking products and materials for a circular world

  • Design for durability, reuse and repair
  • Material and design efficiencies
  • Novel feedstocks
  • Materials from waste
  • Circular biotechnology
  • Design informatics
  • Plastics recycling
  • Waste-water engineering and treatment
  • Urban mining and material separation
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Data and digital tech for a circular product, service system innovation


Circular infrastructure and energy

  • Design for disassembly
  • Supply chain and material flow analysis
  • Advanced materials and manufacturing
  • Energy governance
  • Liveable cities
  • Renewable and low carbon energy
  • Carbon sequestration, capture and storage
  • Alternative energy systems (for example, community and micro-grids)
  • Sustainable architecture and design
  • Data-driven innovation in construction and built environment


Circular business models, finance and policy

  • Circular business models
  • Measurement and reporting
  • Strategy and governance
  • Sustainable finance and investment
  • Responsible innovation
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Behaviour change
  • Natural resource economics

Meet some of our academic experts

Professor Jamie Cross

Jamie is a Professor of Social and Economic Anthropology, specialising in the study of energy, technology, and economy in the global south. His research also involves the production of physical and digital objects that probe the material politics of our energy futures through collaborations with visual artists, filmmakers, and designers. Read more.

Professor Sean Smith

Sean is Professor of Future Construction and Director of the Centre for Future Infrastructure, based at the University of Edinburgh. He has held previous posts leading in sustainable construction, construction innovation and building performance and has managed major projects involving low carbon construction technologies. His research impacts have resulted in multiple awards due to the positive impact on sustainability, low carbon construction growth and society.

Professor Louise Horsfall

Professor Louise Horsfall, Chair of Sustainable Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, is interested in applying synthetic biology to improve the sustainability of biological processes and products, in particular how these areas might make manufacturing more resource-efficient and help move us towards a more circular economy. Read more.

Professor Jason Love

Jason Love is Professor of Molecular Inorganic Chemistry at the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. He has diverse research interests centred on chemical sustainability that includes advancing metal resource circularity through the study of extraction and recycling. Read more.

Professor Joyce Tait

Joyce is Co-Director of the Innogen Institute and works in the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, both at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently working on the circular economy and the bioeconomy, responsible innovation and regulartion/innovation interactions. Read more.

Professor Alan Raybould

Alan is Professor of Innovation in Life Sciences. His research focuses on the use of science to inform decision-making, particularly improving the regulation of new agriculture and food products. He is a member of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) that provides statutory advice to the UK Government on the potential risks to human health and the environment from the release and marketing of genetically modified organisms and non-native species used for biological control.

Find out more

Charlotte Lee-Woolf

Business Development Manager
Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Charlotte.Lee-Woolf@ei.ed.ac.uk

Lucy Stanfield-Jenner

Business Development Executive
Circular Economy

Lucy.Stanfield@ei.ed.ac.uk