Ewch i’r prif gynnwys

Funding success: SMART Expertise funding to support cutting edge research on the value of material repurposing and its implications for the circular economy

18 February 2022

Boxes of recycled products in a warehouse.

The project, funded through the Smart Expertise programme which is supported by the Welsh European Funding Office and the Welsh Government, will explore the value of repurposing material, its implications for connected business collaboration, and its contribution to the circular economic agenda.

This project sets out to facilitate collaboration towards the reduction of material and carbon footprints while creating new value streams across supply chains.

European Regional Development Fund
European Regional Development Fund

The project team

The project is delivered by Professor Aris Syntetos, Dr Thanos Goltsos, Dr Daniel Eyers, and Dr Tim Ramjaun, managed by Dr Andy Treharne-Davies of Cardiff University, and co-led by DSV’s Professor Mike Wilson and Dr Andy Lahy.

Project background

The traditionally linear, make-use-dispose way of thinking is giving way to a revolutionary circular, make-use-reuse model. New legislation is no longer instigating slow change but pushing firms to radically reduce their carbon emissions (net-zero targets). While some work exists on the product level (remanufacturing of products), attention has been shifting to the materials level (repurposing of materials).

Repurposing describes the process of adapting end-of-life materials for use in different products and markets. Contrary to recycling (also referred to as down-cycling), it adds value to it (up-cycling). It does so by turning one supply chain’s end-of-life waste (projected to increase by 70% by 2050) into another’s valuable, carbon-efficient input (e.g., turning textiles into building materials, handbags into ball bearings, clothing to floor tiles).

The inherent difficulty (barrier) is that supply chains with to-be-repurposed material have no experience of, or access to, the potential markets such repurposed materials are intended for. The scarcity of research in the area means that there is little guidance on how this could be surpassed. The answer comes through supply chain collaboration, making use of increasingly available digitalised information.

Collaboration

This bid brings Cardiff University’s PARC Institute of Manufacturing, Logistics and Inventory and RemakerSpace, together with at least five industry partners. They include:

  • DSV, a well-established Cardiff University partner and one of the world’s largest logistics providers, who bring embedded access to digitalised information of/and from differing supply chains of manufacturers already using repurposed materials as inputs and/or outputs.
DSV Global Transport and Logistics
DSV Global Transport and Logistics

And four new collaborators:

  • Interface, an international manufacturer of sustainable flooring products (such as using repurposed plastics to make carpet tiles).
  • Greenstream Flooring, a Welsh specialist flooring recovery business dealing with reused and repurposed floor tiles.
  • 3dGBIre, a 3D printing company who use repurposed filament in their 3D printing, and their sister company
    • CREATE Education, science education specialists with a focus on bringing design and manufacturing technologies to the classroom and the community.
  • Rj-Alpha Advisory Services Ltd., an advisory firm operating in the tech start-up and scale-up domain, with an established network of companies engaged in deep tech, industry 4.0 and circular supply chain.

Our objective

The objective is to assess and reduce the carbon footprint of end-of-life products and material via repurposing, by turning one supply chain’s waste into another’s valuable input.

To do this, we will:

  1. establish, expand, and solidify the state of knowledge in the operational management side of repurposing
  2. explore and identify enabling product, material and market characteristics
  3. create an operationalised decision support framework that will facilitate repurposing of end-of-life material.

Find out more

If you would like to be involved in this or further projects in the area, please get in touch at parc-institute@cardiff.ac.uk.

Rhannu’r stori hon