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University of Sheffield to lead £3.6m circular economy project

Circular economy: two green arrows in a loopA new EU project led by the University of Sheffield is hoping to facilitate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy.

The €4-million (£3.6-million) project, Realising the Transition to the Circular Economy (ReTracCE), is aiming to support the implementation of the EU’s Circular Economy Package, which was adopted in July 2018 and contains stricter recycling targets for all EU member states, as well as a new Plastics Strategy designed to tackle the growing problem of single-use plastic waste littering the natural environment.

Professor Andrea Genovese, from the University of Sheffield’s Management School and Principal Investigator of the ReTraCE initiative, explained: “This project will directly facilitate the implementation of the recently adopted ambitious Circular Economy Strategy of the European Commission, which is closely linked to the Sustainable Development Goals – the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“Looking beyond the current take-make-dispose extractive industrial model, a circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy. It aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits, where products are kept in use for as long as possible, with value recovery and regeneration at the end of their useful life.”

Led by the University of Sheffield, ReTraCE will bring together seven academic and three non-academic groups from across Europe, including the University of Kassel in Germany, the University of Kent and Tata Steel. Funding comes from Horizon 2020, an EU research and innovation project, through its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks programme.

These partners will come together to design and deliver training to 15 early-stage researchers, with a goal to furthering understanding, discussion and action around the circular economy. Ultimately, the project hopes to develop insights into how a circular economy can be realised through both existing organisations and new business models.

By the end of the project, which will last for 48 months, the researchers will be able to share their circular economy expertise with other research institutions as well as public sector bodies and manufacturing and service industries.

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