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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 was academic lead for NTU’s Sustainable Futures Strategic Research Theme (2018-21), Chair of NTU’s Sustainability Action Forum (2014-18) and a member of the University Research Committee (2018-21).

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 a recognised international authority on product lifetimes and has undertaken research in the following areas:

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 project Interim Report (Call: Enabling the Transition towards a Green Economy and Society through Eco-innovation), 2021.
  • Reviewer, Swiss National Science Foundation, Humanities and Social Sciences Division, 2019-20.
  • Reviewer and panel member, Research Council of Norway, 2019.
  • 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)

  • 2021 UCLouvain (Université Catholique de Louvain) (Belgium)
  • 2020 Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands)
  • 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

  • Defra, Circular Economy Working Group, 2019 to date.
  • Royal Academy of Engineering, 2011-13 Member of the project working group, Design for the Future.

Conference advisory board member

  • 2022 International scientific committee member, LCE 2022 - the 29th CIRP Conference on Life Cycle Engineering, KU Leuven, Belgium.
  • 2022  Committee member, International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI) conference.
  • 2021 Adviser and Series Chair, Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) Conference, Limerick/Online.
  • 2020 Programme Committee member, 2nd International Conference on Energy and Sustainable Futures (ICESF).
  • 2019 Adviser and Series Chair, Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) Conference, Berlin.
  • 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

  • 2020 Judging Panel, Ecosurety Exploration Fund.
  • 2012 Judging panel member for national MBA sustainability challenge.
  • 1999 Judging Panel, Design Sense Award.

Policy advice

  • 2021 Invited participant, Low Carbon White and Technology Goods, Which?Roundtable.
  • 2021 Advised Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) on UK Parliament POSTNOTE on Regulating Product Sustainability.
  • 2020 Invited speaker, Durability and Repairability: Opportunity or threat for businesses?, Association Halte à l'Obsolescence Programmée (HOP) online webinar.
  • 2020 Invited participant, Expert Workshops, EU Commission study on empowering consumers in the green transition.
  • 2019-20 Oral and Written Evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy.
  • 2019 Invited participant, WRAP, Textiles Sector Post-2020 Voluntary Agreement workshop.
  • 2019 Invited seminar presenter, European Commission DG Justice and Consumers, Shaping Future EU Consumer Policy, Brussels.
  • 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 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.

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

    Cooper, T. (2020) Slower Cycles: An essential characteristic of the circular economy. In: Eisenriegler, S. (ed.) The Circular Economy in the European Union: An interim review. Springer, pp.99-116. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-50239-3.

    Cooper, T., Shapley, M. and Cole, C. (2020) Mobile Phones in a Circular Economy. In: Ling, R., Fortunati, L., Goggin, G., Lim, S.S. and Li, Y. Oxford Handbook of Mobile Communication and Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Goworek, H., Oxborrow. L, Claxton, S., McLaren, A., Cooper. T., and Hill. H. (2020) Managing sustainability in the fashion business: Evaluating challenges in product development for clothing longevity in the UK. Journal of Business Research 117, 629-641. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.07.021

    Sung, K., Cooper, T., Oehlmann, J., Singh, J. and Mont, O. (2020) Multi-Stakeholder Perspectives on Scaling up UK Fashion Upcycling Businesses, Fashion Practice 12(3), 331-350. DOI: 10.1080/17569370.2019.1701398

    Singh, J., Sung, K., Cooper, T., West, K. and Mont, O. (2019) Challenges and opportunities for scaling up upcycling businesses – the case of textile and wood upcycling businesses in the UK. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 150 (2019) 104439. DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.104439

    Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S. (2019) Developing Interventions for Scaling Up Upcycling in the UK. Energies 12(14), 2778. DOI: 10.3390/en12142778

    Cole, C., Gnanapragasam, A., Cooper, T. and Singh, J. (2019) Assessing barriers to reuse of electrical and electronic equipment, a UK perspective. Resources, Conservation and Recycling: X,1, June 2019, 100004. Online. DOI: 10.1016/j.rcrx.2019.100004

    Harmer, L., Cooper T., Fisher T., Salvia, G., and Barr C. (2019) Design, Dirt and Disposal: Influences on the maintenance of vacuum cleaners. Journal of Cleaner Production 228, 1176-1186. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.101

    Singh, J., Cooper, T., Cole, C., Gnanapragasam, A., and Shapley, M. (2019) Evaluating approaches to resource management in consumer product sectors: An overview of global practices, Journal of Cleaner Production 224, 218-237. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.03.203

    Cole, C., Gnanapragasam, A., Cooper, T. and Singh, J. (2019) An assessment of achievements of the WEEE Directive in promoting movement up the waste hierarchy: experiences in the UK, Waste Management 87, 417-427. DOI: 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.01.046

    Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S. (2019) Factors Influencing Upcycling for UK Makers, Sustainability 11(3), 870. DOI: 10.3390/su11030870

    Cooper, T. and Salvia, G. (2018) Fix It: Barriers to repair and opportunities for change. In: Crocker, R. and Chiveralls, K. (eds.), Subverting Consumerism: Reuse in an Accelerated World, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 147-165.

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