Imperial College London publishes circular economy guidelines


Circular Economy

Imperial College London has said policymakers must listen to scientists to achieve “circular economy success” as part of a new report.

The new report, “Ten insights from industrial ecology for the circular economy”, provides ten recommendations for governments and policymakers to boost the success of circular economy plans. Imperial College London says this is the first review of its kind produced by industrial ecology (the study of material and energy flows through systems).

The report’s recommendations include adopting forward-looking assessment methods that will help anticipate the environmental benefits of new technologies and practices, as well as that a circular economy needs changes in behaviour, business models and government policy, alongside technology.

Scientists across the world possess a wealth of knowledge and skills on how we can manage resources more sustainably.

The report also recommends governments implement a life cycle perspective that considers all impacts, from raw material extraction to end-of-life waste, and early interventions to prevent waste.

Imperial College London’s report also says environmental impacts change between environments, so circular economies should be adapted accordingly. 

The “vast amounts” of material required to build and maintain infrastructure, such as energy and transport networks, locks society into long-term patterns of material and energy use, the report concludes.

Convened by an international collaboration of researchers from universities including University College London, Yale University and Imperial College London, the report explores how industrial ecologists can boost success by understanding materials, infrastructure and ecology.

Dr Rupert Myers, from Imperial College London’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, co-author of the report, commented: “Scientists across the world possess a wealth of knowledge and skills on how we can manage resources more sustainably and reduce the environmental impacts of products across their life cycles.

“This report shows the need for government and industry to collaborate with scientists in the UK and across the world.”

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