Resource Use

Nottingham Trent University leads £6.4m circular economy project

A €7.2-million (£6.4-million) project led by Nottingham Trent University is looking to develop a circular economy approach for everyday products and services throughout their life cycles.

The ‘CIRC4Life’ project is funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme, a €77-billion (£68-billion) research and innovation funding programme running from 2014 to 2020, and aims to reduce carbon emissions and divert waste from landfill.

Three new circular economy business models will be developed along the product value chain, to be demonstrated in four industrial areas: LED lighting products, computer tablets, the meat supply chain and organic vegetable foods and farming.

A smartphone app is being developed that will enable consumers to scan barcodes in shops and get instant data on products’ environmental impacts

The project will involve developing a ‘co-creation of products or services’ model by creating a system to analyse customer feedback from online stores in order to create sustainable products, based on what consumers want. Alongside this, an intelligent system and thorough approach to involving stakeholders in the product creation process will be developed.

In order to create a collaborative recycling and reuse model, an online recycling scheme will be developed allowing people to easily dispose of their old electrical and electronic items and, in turn, collect points as an incentive.

A sustainable consumption model will be developed by creating a smartphone app that allows consumers to scan barcodes in shops or restaurants and get instant data on products’ environmental impacts.

Additionally, creating special online accounts for consumers will ensure that they can can measure their daily carbon footprints, while an online system will also be created for businesses, allowing them to interact with each other about the materials they need in order to refurbish or reuse items.

Professor Daizhong Su, coordinator of the project and a member of Nottingham Trent University’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment said: “This year NTU is celebrating its 175th anniversary and leading this major project is testament to the innovating work we have been carrying out since 1843.

“The project will demonstrate how businesses and consumers can collaborate to have a positive impact and help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Consumers will be given a greater say in the way products are designed, they will be able to take full responsibility of their environmental footprint.

“In turn, businesses will have a bigger responsibility to create more sustainable products as they will be required to share information about the environmental impact of each item. In addition, businesses will interact with each other to reuse or refurbish old products, overall creating a simpler and environmentally friendly system.”