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United Kingdom

More about Kyungeun

Thesis Title: Sustainable production and consumption by upcycling: Understanding and scaling up niche environmentally significant behaviour

Kyungeun’s PhD research (2013-2016) is ‘Sustainable production and consumption by upcycling: Understanding and scaling up niche environmentally significant behaviour’. Upcycling is the creation or modification of a product from used materials, components and products which is equal or higher quality or value than the original. Scaling-up upcycling, in theory, contributes ultimately to reducing carbon emissions by extending lifetimes of used materials, components and products, and thereby decreasing embodied energy. This PhD focused on the emerging household behaviour of upcycling as niche environmentally significant behaviour. The research aimed to understand the current upcycling behaviour and factors that influence behaviour in order to develop design and policy interventions to influence behaviour for upscaling upcycling. This PhD is part of RCUK-funded, Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP) aiming to identify all the opportunities that ultimately deliver a reduction in industrial energy use.

Interviews, a short questionnaire study, a survey and use of a ‘semi-Delphi’ method (a questionnaire study followed by a workshop with experts) were employed. The interviews provided insights into current upcycling behaviour, behavioural factors influencing upcycling, and potential differences arising from demographic characteristics. The short questionnaire study showed that upcycling has potential to create high attachment leading to product longevity. The survey revealed UK-specific key behavioural factors of upcycling and the potential target groups for scaling-up. Synthesising the data from the interviews and survey, initial design and policy intervention strategies for upscaling upcycling were formulated. These initial strategies were subsequently explored and evaluated through the semi-Delphi study. The outcome pinpointed the suitable actor(s) for each intervention and sets of important and feasible interventions for short-term and long-term success in scaling-up.

Kyungeun’s research interest is in sustainable production and consumption focusing on sustainable design including design for sustainability and design for sustainable behaviour (or behaviour change).

Director of Studies

Professor Tim Cooper


Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S., 2016. Individual upcycling in the UK: Insights for scaling-up towards sustainable development. In: W. Filho (Ed) Sustainable Development Research at Universities in the United Kingdom. Cham: Springer, 193-227.

Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S., 2016. An alternative approach to influencing behaviour: Adapting Darnton’s Nine Principles framework for scaling-up individual upcycling. In: P. Lloyd & E. Bohemia (Eds) Proceedings of DRS2016: Design + Research + Society – Future-Focused Thinking (Volume 4), 27-30 June,Brighton. DRS, 1277-1290.

Sung, K., 2015. Appropriate technology (Volume 1, p.46); Renewable resource (Volume 3, p.156); Source reduction (Volume 3, p.243); Waste (Volume 3, p.414). In: C. Edwards (Ed) The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design, London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Sung, K., & Cooper, T., 2015. Sarah Turner – Eco-artist and designer through craft-based upcycling. Craft Research, 6(1), 113-122.

Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S., 2015. An exploratory study on the links between individual upcycling, product attachment and product longevity. In: T. Cooper, N. Braithwaite, M. Moreno and G. Salvia (Eds) Proceedings of the Product Lifetimes And The Environment (PLATE) 2015 Conference, 17-19 June, Nottingham. NTU, 349-356.

Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S., 2015. An exploratory study on the consequences of individual upcycling: Is it worth making people feel attached to their upcycled products? Nottingham Trent University CADBE Doctoral Conference 2015, 8-9 June, Nottingham (selected as the best paper).

Sung, K., 2015. A review on upcycling: Current body of literature, knowledge gaps and a way forward. In: Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 13-14 April, Venice. WASET, 28-40.

Sung, K., Cooper, T. and Kettley, S., 2014. Individual upcycling practice: Exploring the possible determinants of upcycling based on a literature review. In: Proceedings of the Sustainable Innovation 2014 Conference, 3-4 November, Copenhagen. The Centre for Sustainable Design, 237-244.

See all of Kyungeun Sung's publications in IRep

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