Tim Cooper

Tim Cooper


School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment

Staff Group(s)
Product Design


Professor Tim Cooper is responsible for leading research in the fields of sustainable design and sustainable consumption. He is Head of the Sustainable Consumption and Clothing Sustainability research groups, Co-Director of the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products and a member of the Product Design academic team. Tim chairs the University's Sustainability Action Forum and is a member of the University Research Committee.

Career overview

After graduating in economics from the University of Bath, Tim worked as a construction industry market analyst for a decade. He subsequently moved to a research post at the New Economics Foundation, where he produced a report, Beyond Recycling: the longer life option, which attracted national media coverage. He spent 15 years at Sheffield Hallam University, where he was awarded a PhD in 2001, and has been Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University since 2010.

Research areas

Professor Cooper is willing to supervise prospective PhD candidates wishing to undertake research within the fields of sustainable design or sustainable consumption. He has particular expertise in topics relating to product life-spans.

Sustainable design:

  • design for longevity
  • design for emotional durability
  • systems innovation / product-service systems.

Product longevity:

  • the life-span of consumer durables
  • repair and reuse of products
  • consumer influences on product life-spans.

Public policy:

  • the circular economy
  • household waste reduction
  • environmental labelling
  • product policy.

Sustainable consumption:

  • Values and ethics
  • Social psychology and social practice theory
  • Collaborative consumption.

Sustainable production:

  • Novel business models
  • Business ethics and CSR.

External activity

Peer reviewer

  • Member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Peer Review College from 2016 (previous member from 2003-05).
  • Peer reviewer and Rapporteur for the Economic and Social Research Council.
  • Grant application evaluator for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and UK-India Education and Research Initiative.
  • Expert Panel Member, Research Council of Norway. Responsible for evaluating the Environment 2015 programme (2008).
  • External Evaluator, Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland. Responsible for evaluating the Sustainable Development and Environmental Socio-economics strand of the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment programme (2008) and the Implementing Sustainable Development strand of the Environmental Research, Technological Development and Innovation programme (2004).
  • Foreign Expert Evaluator, Office of Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs, Federal Science Policy Office, Belgium. Responsible for evaluating the Belgian Government's Sustainable Production and Consumption Patterns research programme within its Scientific Support Plan for Sustainable Development (2003).
  • Journal reviewer for Journal of Design Research; Co-Design; Journal of Marketing Management; Journal of Cleaner Production; Journal of Consumer Policy; Philosophical Transactions (Royal Society), Resources, Conservation and Recycling; Ecological Economics; Business Strategy and the Environment; European Environment; Sustainable Development, International Journal of Consumer Studies.
  • Book proposal evaluator for Earthscan Publications.

External examiner (PhD)

  • 2017 Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
  • 2017 Aston University
  • 2014 Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • 2014 Surrey University
  • 2010 Loughborough University
  • 2010 Plymouth University
  • 2008 Swansea University
  • 2008 Calgary University (Canada)
  • 2006 Leeds University
  • 2005 Brunel University

Professional bodies

  • Royal Academy of Engineering, 2011-13 Member of the project working group, Design for the Future.

Conference advisory board member

  • 2017 Scientific Committee, Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE), Delft.
  • 2016 Scientific Board member, Sustainable Energy for All by Design, LeNSes (Learning Network on Sustainable Energy Systems) Conference, Cape Town, September.
  • 2016 International Review Committee, DRS2016: Design + Research + Society: Future-Focused Thinking, Design Research Society Conference, Brighton, June.
  • 2015 Chairman, Conference Organising Committee, Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE), Nottingham, June.
  • 2012 Advisory Board member for Sustainable Innovation: Resource Efficiency, Innovation and Lifestyles, Bonn, Germany.
  • 2011 Adviser, session chair and respondent, Sustainability in Crisis, University of Cambridge.
  • 2010 LENS (Learning Network on Sustainability) Conference, Bangalore, India
  • 2008 Co-Chair Eco-THEE (Ecological Theology and Environmental Ethics) Conference, Chania, Crete
  • 1999 Down to Earth Conference, Southampton, UK

Award panel member

  • 2012 Judging panel member for national MBA sustainability challenge
  • 1999 Judging Panel, Design Sense Award

Government adviser

  • 1998-99 Specialist Adviser, House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1998 / 99 (Appointed for its Enquiry Reducing the Environmental Impact of Consumer Products. Eleventh Report, HC 149.

Sponsors and collaborators

Tim Cooper's research has been funded by public bodies (European Commission, Council of Europe, Defra, WRAP, Office of Fair Trading), Research Councils (ESRC, EPSRC), a non-governmental organisation (Friends of the Earth) and industry. He has collaborated with a wide range of research partners, including University of Tokyo, NIES (National Institute for Environmental Studies) Tokyo, University of Delft, Ipsos MORI, Politecnico di Milano, IÖW (Institute for Ecological Economy Research) Berlin, TNO (Netherlands), PriceWaterhouseCoopers. His current RCUK / EPSRC project, the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products, is a collaboration with the University of Leeds, University of Bath and Cardiff University.

Recently funded projects:

  • 2015-18 Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (RCUK/EPSRC, £254,163).
  • 2014 Expected, actual and optimal product lifetimes (Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation / DAIWA Anglo-Japanese Foundation, £7,000).
  • 2014-16 Dirt, damage, servicing and repair: understanding motivations for product disposal (Defra, £137,108).
  • 2014-16 Strategies to improve design and testing for clothing longevity (Defra, £123,959).
  • 2013-18 UK INDEMAND Research Centre (RCUK/EPSRC, £999,185).
  • 2013 Baseline on clothing longevity and active use (with Ipsos MORI) (WRAP, £1,725).
  • 2012-13 Developing an industry supported approach to measuring, specifying and communicating aspects of clothing longevity (WRAP, £81,400).
  • 2012-13 The potential role of collaborative consumption tools and practices in helping people increase the useful life of products (Defra, £7,000).
  • 2012 Guidance on design for longevity of clothing (WRAP, £35,000).
  • 2011-12 Clothing behaviour (WRAP, £8,800).
  • 2011-12 Repair and Reuse (WRAP, £7,000).
  • 2008-10 Sustainable consumption and food security (European Commission, £2,000).
  • 2009 Consumption and well-being (Council of Europe, £3,000).
  • 2008 Public understanding of sustainable clothing (Defra, £60,000).
  • 2008 Responsible consumption (Council of Europe, £2,000).
  • 2006-08 Sustainable Consumption and Production seminar series (ESRC, £15,000).
  • 2004-08 Product life spans (EPSRC, £65,000).


Recent Publications

Salvia, G. and Cooper, T. (2016) The Role of Design as a Catalyst for Sustainable DIY, In: Genus, A. (ed.) Sustainable Consumption: Design, Innovation and Practice, Springer, pp. 15-34.

Piscicelli, L., Moreno, M., Cooper, T. and Fisher. T. (2016) The Individual-Practice Framework: A Design Tool for Understanding Consumer Behaviour, In: Genus, A. (ed.) Sustainable Consumption: Design, Innovation and Practice, Springer, pp. 35-50.

Piscicelli, L., Cooper, T. and Fisher, T. (2015) The role of values in collaborative consumption: Insights from a product-service system for lending and borrowing in the UK, Journal of Cleaner Production 97, pp.21-29.

Garnett, K. and Cooper, T. (2014) Effective Dialogue: Enhanced Public Engagement as a Legitimising Tool for Municipal Waste Management Decision-Making, Waste Management: International Journal of Integrated Waste Management, Science and Technology 34(12), pp. 2709-2726.

Cooper, T. (2013). Sustainability, Consumption and the Throwaway Culture. In: Walker, S. and Giard, J. (eds.) The Handbook of Design for Sustainability, London: Bloomsbury, pp.137-155.

Goworek, H., Fisher, T., Cooper, T., Woodward, S. and Hiller, A. (2013). Consumers' attitudes towards sustainable fashion: clothing usage and disposal. In: Gardetti, M.A. and Torres, A.L. (eds.) Sustainability in Fashion and Textiles, Sheffield: Greenleaf, pp.376-392.

Cooper, T. (ed) 2010. Longer Lasting Products, Farnham: Gower Publishing, pp.432, ISBN 978-0-566-08808-7

See all of Tim Cooper's publications...

Press expertise

  • Consumer behaviour
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Sustainable design
  • Environmental policy (product policy; waste reduction)
  • Product lifetimes
  • Environmental ethics