We need to manage our material, food, energy and water resources better and address the economic, environmental and health costs of wasted resources. Insufficient effort has been put on how we design, make and deploy products, and prevention of waste throughout the product life cycle, so we can better manage our stock of natural resources, and the amounts and types of wastes we create.

With our sustainable resources and zero waste theme we will be bringing together researchers at Imperial to work across disciplines and with external stakeholders to tackle key challenges such as environmentally and socially sustainable materials; nature inspired engineering; sustainable fuels and chemicals to decarbonise transport systems, reduce dependence on rare-earth elements and remove the dependence of the chemical industry on fossil fuels; the circular economy including targeting a circular carbon and nitrogen economy and valorisation of waste products; sustainable business; and sustainable healthcare systems.

Theme Champions

This theme is led by Professor Magda Titirici (Department of Chemical Engineering), Professor James Durrant (Department of Chemistry), Professor Nick Voulvoulis (Centre for Environmental Policy) and Dr Simone Cenci (Business School).

Highlights

EPSRC Circular Economy Centres

 Researchers from Imperial are involved with two of UKRI's Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres, a £22.5m initiative announced by the Government in November 2020:

  • The £4.3m National Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy led by Loughborough University is developing new transformative technologies to help reduce the chemical industry’s environmental impact, with a particular focus on recovering and reprocessing olefins. Academics from the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial will lead work on process integration and whole system analysis as part of the centre. 
  • Dr Rupert Myers from Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will carry out research as part of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre For Mineral-based Construction Materials led by University College London. The centre will develop systems for more efficient use and recovery of mineral resources, helping the construction industry to do more with less, reduce waste, lessen pollution, and lower costs.  

Making plastics more sustainable

Plastic pollution is causing problems across the world and solving this challenge requires researchers from many disciplines - engineers, chemists, environmental science and policy, social science, and business models. Researchers across Imperial are working on solutions to plastic pollution from developing roadmaps for how the UK can prevent waste plastics from entering the environment to working together in the cross-Faculty Ocean Plastic Solutions Network. Imperial's Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) has produced a briefing paper on the importance of molecular science for more sustainable plastics entitled 'Enabling a greener plastic future through molecular science'.