Circular Economy

Circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy where products are made, used then disposed of. In a circular economy resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovering and recycling products and materials at the end of each service life.

Circular economy builds upon well-known principles of sustainability good practice in the built environment such as Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM), site waste management plans and the provision of on site renewable energy.

Imperial College London is a partner university with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and has been involved in the emerging concept of the circular economy. 

Applying circular economy thinking to infrastructure development in London


The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) has been tasked with developing a circular economy route map for London, focusing firstly on the infrastructure and construction sectors.

The Grantham Institute is supporting this process by both providing academic expertise from across Imperial and using its management experience and capacity to help facilitate activities.

Old Oak Park Royal Workshop

The first step in the journey was a workshop bringing together engineering, construction, policy and academic sectors participants to discuss the potential for London’s infrastructure sector become more efficient. Grantham staff and Imperial academics, together with others, facilitated the event, which was held on 3 September 2015.

The conversation focused around the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation area, a transformative regeneration project with significant infrastructure development in early stage planning. Using this case study as a starting point, enabled some of the real challenges and key areas of focus for London as a whole to be identified.

The Institute’s experience of convening experts for discussions around challenging areas, and our links to relevant public and private sector organisations, allowed us to support LWARB in designing and facilitating the workshop. We assisted LWARB in building a concept for the event that was coherent  with the overall timeline of the route map process, determining what was possible in a first meeting as well next steps along the way. Our experts helped to set the agenda, identifying relevant speakers, teasing out key issues for London, and considering how to ensure that there were clear practical outputs from the discussions.

Next steps

London construction work

As LWARB takes further steps towards developing its route map, the Grantham Institute will continue to provide both academic and policy expertise and help build stronger links between the academic community in London and policy makers on the circular economy.

To find out more about developing partnerships with the Grantham Institute, please contact our Head of Policy and Translation, Alyssa Gilbert (