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£22.5 million funding to turn industry waste into environmental wins

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From: The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Industries will be helped to tackle waste, boost recycling and build back greener from coronavirus through funding for 5 state-of-the-art research centres.

  • Industry set to benefit from £22.5 million government funding to reduce waste and boost recycling in textiles, electronics, metals, construction and chemicals
  • emissions from the UK’s textiles industry alone are almost as high as those from cars used for private trips
  • research could stop the generation of 154 million tonnes of mineral waste each year, enough to fill 30,000-Olympic-sized swimming pools

Industries across the UK will be helped to tackle waste, boost recycling and build back greener from coronavirus thanks to £22.5 million of government funding for 5 state-of-the-art research centres in London, Loughborough and Exeter.

The research centres will explore how the reuse of waste materials in the textiles, construction, chemicals, transport, electronics and metal industries can protect the environment and boost the economy.

Emissions from the UK’s textiles industry alone are almost as high as those from cars used for private trips, and it is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year.

The better reuse and recycling techniques developed by these new centres – expanding the so-called ‘circular economy’ – will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve natural resources and provide new opportunities for UK industries. Research has shown that expanding the circular economy could create up to 500,000 gross jobs by 2030.

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:

We want to further the UK’s status as a world-leader in finding green solutions to industrial challenges, and projects like these are excellent examples of placing manufacturers at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.

I am pleased to support these new cutting-edge research centres that will transform the way industry reuses and recycles materials – another great step forward as we build back greener from coronavirus and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

Creating a more circular economy for our waste and resources lies at the heart of this government’s transformative agenda for the environment, and we are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse and recycle more of our resources – with strong measures to enable this coming forward in our landmark Environment Bill.

These new research centres will play a vital part in creating a cleaner and more sustainable economy, and help us to better protect the environment for the next generation.

One of the 5 new centres, the Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials, led by University College London, will develop more efficient use and recovery of mineral materials such as construction stones, cement and brick. This project will reduce UK minerals extraction by more than half a million tonnes per day and stop the generation of 154 million tonnes of mineral waste each year, enough to fill 30,000-Olympic-sized swimming pools.

To tackle the emissions from the UK’s textiles industry, one of the 5 new centres, the Interdisciplinary Textiles Circularity Centre, led by the Royal College of Art, aims to lessen the environmental impact of clothing in the UK by using household waste and used fabrics to develop new textiles instead of relying on imported materials.

Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, said:

The move to a circular economy, where we use less resources and reuse more materials, is central to the UK’s green industrial revolution and our commitment to achieving a net zero economy by 2050.

By bringing together a wide range of academic disciplines with industry partners the centres will catalyse innovative new technologies and approaches that will boost the UK economy and benefit the environment.

The Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres are funded by the UK government as part of UK Research and Innovation’s Strategic Priorities fund. In addition to the UKRI Government investment, £11.2 million of funding and in-kind support is being provided by external partners, as well as support from host universities.

Today’s funding follows on from July’s announcement of £350 million to cut emissions in heavy industry and accelerate the UK’s economic recovery. The multi million-pound investment is playing a vital role in helping businesses to decarbonise across the heavy industry, construction, space and transport sectors and to secure the UK’s place at the forefront of green innovation.

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