Major European project underway to develop circular economy approach for everyday items

Nottingham Trent University is leading a €7.2 million project to develop a circular economy approach for everyday products and services through their life cycles.

The ‘CIRC4Life’ project – funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme – will work to reduce carbon emissions and the amount of waste going to landfill.

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

Throughout the project consumers will help design sustainable products; have online accounts to keep track of their daily footprints on the environment; and be able to easily recycle items so manufactures can repair them, or reuse components/materials.

The project will involve:

  • Developing a co-creation of products/services model by: Creating an intelligent system to analyse customer feedback from online stores, to create sustainable products based on what customers want; and creating a system to involve stakeholders in the product creation and development process
  • Implementing an approach to involve stakeholders in the product creation and development process
  • Developing a sustainable consumption model by: Creating a smartphone app so consumers can scan barcodes in shops and restaurants to get data on a product’s environmental impact
  • Creating a collaborative recycling/reuse model by: Developing an online recycling scheme so people can easily dispose of their old electrical and electronic items and in turn, collect points
  • Providing consumers with online accounts so they can measure their daily carbon footprints
  • Creating an online system for businesses to interact with each other about the materials they need to refurbish or reuse an item

Professor Daizhong Su, of the university’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment and coordinator of the project, 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.”

CIRC4Life – A Circular Economy Approach for Lifecycles of Products and Services – involves a consortium of 17 partners from across 8 EU countries.