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University of Exeter ‘leading the way’ towards circular economy in new Partnership with Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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A new partnership between the University of Exeter and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been announced that will accelerate the University’s vision of transitioning to a circular economy. 

The University of Exeter, formerly a Member of the Foundation’s Network, has now become a Partner – the first University Partner in the Network – an achievement that underlines the University’s commitment to methods of production and consumption where fewer resources are used and more waste materials are reused.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said:

“We are so proud to announce that we are the first University Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose pioneering work to engage organisations and corporations in circular economy practices is world-renowned. 

“Through our education, research and industry collaborations, the University of Exeter has long championed the development of a circular economy — one that eliminates waste and pollution, circulates products and materials and regenerates nature — as a fundamental step towards an economy that works better for both society and the environment.”

Jennifer Mealing, Higher Education Network Manager at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said:

“The education sector, from primary school to postgraduate study, plays a vital role in ensuring students of all ages are equipped with the key skills and knowledge to apply circular thinking in their chosen careers — and universities are in a unique position to affect positive change through teaching and learning, research, campus management, student-led projects, and leadership.

“Through The Exeter Centre for Circular Economy, the University of Exeter is among those institutions leading the way. We are delighted to welcome the institution as the first University Partner in our Network.”

The University of Exeter first worked with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a Pioneer University and in 2017 Dame Ellen MacArthur officially launched the Exeter Centre for Circular Economy, a research centre within the University of Exeter Business School that is globally recognised for circular economy thought leadership, theory, and practice.

The University now has hundreds of academics working on major contributions to future circular economy adoption and implementation including climate change, natural capital and ecosystem services, water systems, and business entrepreneurship and innovation.

And in 2021 the University was chosen to lead the CE-Hub, the coordinating hub for the National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research (NICER) programme, a £30 million UKRI-funded programme working to provide the evidence base needed to deliver a resilient and restorative circular economy for the UK, bringing together academics, industry practitioners, policy makers and civic society to deliver circular economy research and innovation.

Professor Alexandra Gerbasi, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the University of Exeter Business School, said:

“Our role as a Business School and University in tackling the climate crisis and reaching net zero depends not just on raising awareness but providing scalable solutions, and the circular economy provides a clear framework to tackle the root causes of global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, material consumption and waste.”

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