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Squaring the circular economy

6 April 2017


Cardiff University and Panalpina, one of the world’s leading providers of supply chain solutions, are exploring new models for waste reduction and efficiencies.

Part of the burgeoning relationship between the two organisations, researchers and external partners explored the ‘circular economy’ during a Social Science Research Park (SPARK) challenge workshop.

Linear and circular economies

Linear models of production have a definitive end and beginning; we take, make and then dispose. Circular models however promote ‘remanufacturing’: re-use of products, reductions in waste and efficient resource consumption.

Moving to remanufacturing means ethically produced products at lower prices, reductions in energy consumption and waste production, as well as new jobs to offset future losses in skilled employment.

Yet very few companies actively pursue circular models of production and academic research remains at a preliminary stage.

The workshop looked at this lack of wide-spread usage, with participants considering:

  • The barriers to the circular economy from a business perspective
  • Where further research is needed
  • Which academic disciplines might contribute and how.

Professor Aris Syntetos, Panalpina Chair in Manufacturing and Logistics Research, said: “Circular economic models hold huge potential for the public and are at the heart of Cardiff Business School’s research...”

"Our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Panalpina and EPSRC fundamental research programme are indicative of our commitment to the circular economy."

Professor Aris Syntetos Distinguished Research Professor, DSV Chair

Mike Wilson, Global Head of Logistics at Panalpina, said: “The relationship we have built between Cardiff University and Panalpina has become a true partnership in a very short space of time. The mutual benefits that both parties enjoy is testament to the aligned thinking, the combined effort and the hard work from a number of people. The SPARK workshop was just another example of how closely we work together.”

SPARK challenge workshops

The event was the first in a series of workshops being run as part of the SPARK initiative. The series will focus on topics with significant societal impact, explore areas for collaboration and seed new research across academic disciplines through the ESRC Transformative Research scheme.

Professor Rick Delbridge, Academic Lead for SPARK, said: “We’ve been bold as an institution with the Social Science Research Park..."

"The collaboration we have with Panalpina builds on the University's growing capacity for challenge-led and socially-focussed innovation.”

Professor Rick Delbridge Professor of Organizational Analysis

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