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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.

An intelligent system will be created to analyse customer feedback from online stores, so sustainable products can be created based on what customers want (Getty images)

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.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Chris Birkle, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University is receiving around €1 million for the project. For more information please visit

    The consortium also involves: Centre for European Policy Studies, Belgium; CIRCE Foundation, Spain; Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas, Poland; Swerea IVF AB, Sweden; Laurea University of Applied Science, Finland; Institute of Communication and Computer Systems, Greece; Enviro Data, Sweden; Scilly Organics, UK; Kosnic Lighting Ltd, UK; European EPC Competence Center GmbH, Germany; ONA Product S L, Spain; Indumetal Recycling S.A., Spain; GS1 Germany GmbH, Germany; S.A.T ALIA, Spain; Make Mothers Matter, Belgium; and Recyclia, Spain.

    Nottingham Trent University was named University of the Year 2017 at the Times Higher Education Awards and Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The award recognises NTU for its strong student satisfaction, quality of teaching, overall student experience and engagement with employers.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has been awarded the highest, gold, rating in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework for its outstanding teaching and learning. NTU is one of the largest UK universities with nearly 28,000 students and more than 3,500 staff across four campuses, contributing £496m to the UK economy every year. It is one of the most environmentally-friendly universities, containing some of the country’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings.

    The University is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable Nottingham Trent to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is the sixth biggest recruiter of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the country and 95.6% of its graduates go on to employment or further education within six months of leaving.

    NTU is home to world-class research, winning The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 - the highest national honour for a UK university. It recognised the University’s pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula and combat food fraud.

    With an international student population of approximately 2,600 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research & innovation programme under grant agreement n° 776503

Published on 11 July 2018
  • Category: Press office; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment