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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 and a member of the Product Design academic team. Tim is academic lead for the university’s Sustainable Futures strategic research theme and a member of the University Research Committee. He initiated the biennial PLATE (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) conferences and is editor of Longer Lasting Products (Routledge, 2010).

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 Review - Project grants

  • Reviewer, European Commission Horizon 2020 work programme 2018-20 (Call: Greening the Economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Peer Review College, 2003-05 and 2016 to date. Grant application evaluator for the National Environment Research Council (2014), Arts and Humanities Research Council (2013) and Economic and Social Research Council (2005, 2009).
  • Member, Sustainable Business Models assessment committee, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), 2017-18.
  • Reviewer, Sustainable Economy Programme, Swiss National Science Foundation, 2017.
  • Expert Reviewer, Grants and Fellowships, Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS), Belgium, 2016-17.
  • Expert Panel Member, Environment 2015 programme, Research Council of Norway, 2008.
  • External Evaluator, Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment programme (Sustainable Development and Environmental Socio-economics strand), Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland, 2008.
  • Grant application evaluator, UK-India Education and Research Initiative, 2006.
  • External Evaluator, Environmental Research, Technological Development and Innovation programme (Implementing Sustainable Development strand), Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland, 2004.
  • Foreign Expert Evaluator, Belgian Government Sustainable Production and Consumption Patterns research programme, Office of Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs, Federal Science Policy Office, Belgium, 2003.
  • Past Grant application evaluator for Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Peer review - Publications

  • Journal reviewer for Philosophical Transactions (Royal Society); Journal of Design Research; Co-Design; International Journal of Sustainable Design; Journal of Marketing Management; Journal of Cleaner Production; Resources, Conservation and Recycling; Ecological Economics; Business Strategy and the Environment; European Environment; Sustainable Development; Journal of Consumer Policy; International Journal of Consumer Studies.
  • Book proposal evaluator, Earthscan Publications.
  • Editor, Special Issue, Journal of Business Ethics, The development of responsible and sustainable business practice: Habits, mind-sets, business models, 2017.

External examiner (PhD)

  • 2018 Aalto University (Finland)
  • 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

Policy advice

  • 2018 Invited Panel member, European Economic and Social Committee conference, Tackling premature Obsolescence in Europe, Brussels.
  • 2018 Submitted evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry.
  • 2016 Submitted evidence to House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee inquiry into Setting the Fifth Carbon Budget.
  • 2015 Invited Panel member, EU Stakeholder Conference, Circular Economy: boosting business, reducing waste, Brussels.
  • 2013 Submitted response to Call for Evidence on draft Waste Prevention Programme for England.
  • 2008 Provided Oral and Written Evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Enquiry into Waste Reduction.
  • 1998-9 Specialist Adviser to House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee 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 recent RCUK / EPSRC project, the Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products, was 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).


Latest Publications

  • Goworek, H., Oxborrow. L, Cooper. T., Claxton, S. and Hill. H. (2018) Managing sustainability in the fashion business: Evaluating challenges in product development for clothing longevity in the UK. Journal of Business Research. Available online (August).
  • Painter, M., Hibbert, S. and Cooper, T. (2018) The development of responsible & sustainable business practice: value, mind-sets, business-models. Journal of Business Ethics. Available online (July).
  • Barrett, J., Cooper, T., Hammond, G.P. and Pidgeon, N. (2018) Industrial energy, materials and products: UK decarbonisation challenges and opportunities, Applied Thermal Engineering, 136: 643-656. doi: 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2018.03.049
  • Piscicelli, L., Ludden, G.D.S. and Cooper, T. (2018) What makes a sustainable business model successful? An empirical comparison of two peer-to-peer sharing platforms, Journal of Cleaner Production, 172, pp.4580-4591.
  • Cole, C., Gnanapragasam, A. and Cooper, T. (2018) Enhancing reuse and resource recovery of electrical and electronic equipment with reverse logistics to meet carbon reduction targets. Procedia CIRP, 69, 980-985.
  • Gnanapragasam, A. Cole, C. and Cooper, T. (2018) Consumer perspectives on longevity and reliability: a national study of purchasing factors across eighteen product categories. Procedia CIRP, 69, 910-915.
  • Mestre, A. and Cooper, T. (2017) Circular Product Design. A Multiple Loops Life Cycle Design Approach for the Circular Economy, The Design Journal, 20:sup1, S1620-S1635. doi: 10.1080/14606925.2017.1352686
  • Cole, C., Gnanapragasam, A. and Cooper, T., Singh, J. (2017) Towards a circular economy: exploring routes to reuse for discarded electrical and electronic equipment. Procedia CIRP, 61, pp.155-160.
  • Singh, J. and Cooper, T. (2017) Towards a sustainable business model for plastic shopping bag management in Sweden. Procedia CIRP, 61, pp.679-684.
  • Garnett, K., Cooper, T., Longhurst, P., Jude, S. and Tyrrel, S. (2017) A conceptual framework for negotiating public involvement in municipal waste management decision-making in the UK, Waste Management, 66, pp.210-221.

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