National circular economy research programme launched in the UK

The National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research (NICER) programme, which was launched on 28 May, has been designed to accelerate the UK’s shift to a circular economy.

Thirty-four universities and 200 industry partners from across the country will be involved in the project, which is being supported by a £30 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment.

The programme will be formed of one coordinating hub, led by the University of Exeter, which has received £3.5 million from the UKRI to look to offer solutions using fewer resources and reusing and recovering more materials.

The hub will work alongside five national research centres, led by the Royal College of Art, University College London, Loughborough University, University of Exeter and Brunel University London.

Each research centre will explore how reusing waste materials in a wide range of industries, including textiles, construction, chemical and metals, could deliver huge environmental benefits and boost the UK economy.

The programme will be delivered in partnership with Defra, to ensure research outcomes contribute to the delivery of government policy.

Earlier this year, a ReLondon survey found that local authorities and SMEs wanted the circular economy to become more of a priority for national policy makers.

CE Hub Co-Lead Professor Peter Hopkinson said: “The UK economy consumes over 1 billion tonnes of materials every year, or around 17 tonnes per person, contributing to carbon emissions, a huge amount of unnecessary waste and environmental damage.

“This is set to continue to grow unless we take radical action to shift the current linear economy towards a circular economy. This programme will show how this can be done at speed and scale.”

CE Hub Co-Lead Professor Fiona Charnley added: “It is incredibly exciting to see the UK Research and Innovation community coming together to collaborate on Circular Economy with industry, policymakers, local and regional government and wider society to create new economic and business opportunity, reduce the use of resources and environmental impact and create jobs for the UK.”