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About CirPlas



Between January 2019 and July 2020, the Centre will support a series of research projects and workshops to support multi-disciplinary engagement on the following themes:


About the Team

The activities of the Centre are managed by a multi-disciplinary team of academics:

Prof Erwin Reisner (Principal Investigator), Professor of Energy and Sustainability, Department of Chemistry 

My laboratory has recently demonstrated the feasibility of solar reforming of natural biomass (lignocellulose) and synthetic organic polymers (plastics) to generate clean hydrogen and a mixture of organic products. This ambient-temperature technology stands out as it only requires a suitable photocatalyst, water, sunlight and a suitable substrate such as waste plastics. My laboratory’s long-term goal is to combine renewable energy generation and sustainable chemical synthesis with environmental remediation to tackle the two contemporary global challenges of plastic and energy.



Dr David Aldridge, Senior Lecturer in Aquatic Ecology, Department of Zoology                                                                                 

I am a freshwater ecologist with a strongly applied focus in environmental management. I lead the Aquatic Ecology Group which focuses on the sustainable management of global freshwater ecosystems. I work closely with the UK water industry and in 2015 I published the first review on microplastics in fresh water. I have a specific research interest in developing tools for testing and characterising microplastic pollution, and also on the use of biological systems for the effective removal and monitoring from freshwater outfalls.



Prof Jeremy Baumberg, FRS, Professor of Nanoscience, Department of Physics                                                                       

My research focuses on materials sustainability and the nano-assembly and scale-up of functional materials. Activities include low cost instrumentation via 3D printing, deformable materials, polymer-nanoparticle composites, and molecular sensing. One of my projects in the area of plastic waste and sustainability focuses on building scientific instruments cheaply using plastic waste to make plastic parts with 3D printers. This approach could make a big difference in developing countries. The aim is to create high-value locally-produced components using low-value waste, to enable a cost model for technology development and entrepreneurship.



Dr Jonathan Cullen, University Lecturer in Energy, Transport and Urban Infrastructure, Department of Engineering                                                                       

I lead the Resource Efficiency Collective, in the Engineering Department. My work focuses on understanding the consequences of materials production including plastics. I was a co-author of the book Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open, which pioneered the concept of material efficiency for energy-intensive industries, including plastics manufacture. This work includes understanding the global production and recycling rates for plastics. My approach is to apply engineering rigour and evidence based analysis to the current circular economy debate, and suggest physical circularity metrics for use with materials. 



Dr Ronan Daly, University Lecturer in the Science and Technology of Manufacturing, Department of Engineering                                                            

My research focuses on understanding fluids, colloids and interfaces to support the development of the next generation of production processes for personalised medicine, biosensing, functional coatings and inkjet printing. We tackle the complex fluid flow and functional material challenges and deliver the science to enable scale-up to real manufacturing. I have a particular interest in technologies that allow us to label and track plastic, with a view to measuring the success of trying to move to a circular economy by tracking the full use to re-use or recycling path.



Prof Paul Dupree, Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Department of Biochemistry                                                                     

I have a specific interest in sustainable applications of plant carbohydrates. Specifically, woody plant materials, the most abundant biological material on earth, are used for paper and card packaging but there is potential to improve the properties and widen the applications. In addition to fundamental research on plant biochemistry I have worked on applications including the development of low-calorie plant carbohydrate ingredients that replace sugar in food, and enzymatic modification of plant material to improve plant material utility for applications ranging from building materials to transport fuels.



Prof James Elliott, Professor of Macromolecular Materials Science, Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy                                                          

I lead a research group studying polymeric membranes, carbon nanotube fibres and composite materials. My work frequently employs state-of-the-art computational modelling to complement experimental studies. I have a particular interest in the controlled synthesis of new polymer architectures, combined with advanced microstructural characterisation (including modelling) to generate a new class of materials which are easy to recycle by design, and degrade in a predictable and controllable fashion to reduce impact on the environment.



Dr Adrian Fisher, Reader in Electrochemistry, Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology         

I lead the Electrochemistry and Microengineering Group. I have a specific interest in using enzymatic biodegradation to degrade plastic waste into products that have the potential to be used to power microbial fuel cells for the generation of electricity. This research builds on an existing programme of research into microbial fuel cells and biophotovoltaics and their integration with biodigesters and bioremediation reactors for waste treatment generating electricity, hydrogen and biomass.



Dr Khaled Soufani, Director of the Circular Economy Centre and the Executive MBA Programme, Judge Business School   

I am the Director of the Circular Economy Centre at the Judge Business School, with interests ranging from corporate to entrepreneurial finance. In the area of circular models and economy my research focuses on how organisations in different sectors across the value chain can integrate disruptive technology and design business models that are based on longevity, renewability, reuse, repair, upgrade, refurbishment, serviceability, capacity sharing, and dematerialisation. I aim to support both companies and governing bodies to see practical business cases and business models in action.



Dr Brigitte Steger, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies                                                  

My work focuses on the cultural history and anthropology of daily life, including notions of cleanliness and waste disposal. I am interested in how the use and disposal of plastic are embedded in the everyday lives of consumers. I ask how people’s plastic use and recycling habits are influenced by the legal and procedural systems of waste collection/recycling and their values, lifestyles and understanding of natural and social environments. Comparing the UK, Japan and Uruguay, I use a variety of qualitative research methods to examine what factors influence citizens to eliminate household plastic waste, such as time, costs, hygiene, convenience and propriety.




Centres Supporting Our Activities

In addition to the academic team, the Centre for Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste is supported by the following groups which are providing support for its activities:

Energy Transitions@Cambridge IRC

We are a University wide Interdisciplinary Research Centre linking the activities of researchers across 30 departments and faculties working on all aspects of energy-related research. Our aim is to leverage the University’s expertise to tackle technical and intellectual challenges in energy, integrating science, technology and policy research. We co-ordinate the activities of the Cambridge Centre in Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste and provide support for the development of new collaborations and partnerships.



Centre for Circular Economy

We focus on circular economy, circular business models and their application, as well as the policy and business contexts within which they operate. The Centre's research proposition involves deep engagement in order to achieve impact via interaction with organisations and enterprises, and their management challenges. We are supporting the Centre for Cambridge Centre in Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste to deliver business impact through its research activities and the Forum.



Centre for Global Equality (CGE)

CGE works to evolve innovative solutions to global challenges with a focus on problems that undermine the wellbeing of the poorer half of the world’s population. We facilitate collaboration between business, government, academia and civil society, drawing particularly on capacity in the University of Cambridge and companies in the Cambridge Cluster. We support the Cambridge Centre in Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste by enabling inclusive innovation to enhance the impact of the Centre’s activities in low and middle income countries.



Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP)

CSaP works to improve public policy by creating opportunities for public policy professionals and academics to learn from each other. Through our activities we help researchers from all disciplines to contribute more effectively to society. We are working with the Cambridge Centre in Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste to help them explore the policy implications of their research and facilitate their engagement with policy makers.



Cambridge Institute Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

CISL is a globally influential Institute developing leadership and solutions for a sustainable economy. We believe the economy can be ‘rewired’, through focused collaboration between business, government and finance institutions, to deliver positive outcomes for people and environment. For over 3 decades we have built the leadership capacity and capabilities of individuals and organisations, and created industry-leading collaborations, to catalyse change and accelerate the path to a sustainable economy. We are working with the Cambridge Centre in Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste to explore and communicate the implications for business and policy.



British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - Aurora Innovation Centre

At the BAS Aurora Innovation Centre we focus on creating new connections that can lead to cross-science breakthroughs and new partnerships. We support partnerships focused on research and entrepreneurial activity in a range of areas including environmental stewardship. BAS has a specific interest in reducing and mitigating ocean plastic pollution. We have partnered with the Cambridge Centre in Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste to support impact through venture training activities.




Founding Project Partners 

The Cambridge Centre for Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste was established in partnership with:

Cambridge Cleantech 

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership (RECAP) 


Other PRIF Centres

University of Exeter - ExeMPLaR - Multidisciplinary Plastics Research Hub

University of Hull - Evolving a Circular Plastics Economy

Imperial College London - Holistic integration of technology, design and policy for a greener plastic future

University of Manchester - Tackling the challenge of plastic waste

Queen's University Belfast - Advancing Creative Circular Economies for Plastics via Technological-Social Transitions (ACCEPT)

Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Sheffield - Plastics: Redefining Single-Use

University College London – Designing-out Plastic Waste