In the current linear economic model it is the norm to take, make, briefly use and dispose of materials and serviceable products, with devastating effects on the living environment and climate while exhausting the resources on which a fair and equitable life depends.

A circular economy aims to make better use of materials and products. It designs products to last, that are fit for reuse, easy to repair and, eventually, recycle. In a circular economy the purpose of the economy changes from short-term economic gains to organising fair access to resources to enable people to have a good life within environmental limits. Circular economy is being implemented widely for its commercial and social benefits while reducing impacts on climate and environment.

Programme Objective

In the period January-March 2021 we will expand existing partnerships and co-produce plans for a Living Lab, with a view to develop and pilot circular economy ideas and to support knowledge exchange and collaboration critical to innovation across Yorkshire.

The project is led by Anne Velenturf at the University of Leeds, and supported by Mike Howroyd and Clare Richardson-Barlow at University of Leeds, David Gibbs at University of Hull, and consultants Les Newby from Les Newby Associates and Nicky Denison from Wordfern. Project delivery is guided by an advisory board consisting of University of Leeds academics and business development staff as well as representatives from Kirklees Council, Hull City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority/ Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Outputs, outcomes and impact

Detailed plans and the function of the Living Lab are to be co-produced during the project via:

  1. An inventory of local and regional government strategies and plans about, or related to, circular economy to find common themes, challenges and opportunities;
  2. Individual conversations and focus groups with councils, LEPs, companies and sector representatives, community groups and Universities about regional circular economy research, business practices and aspirations, demand for Living Lab, challenges and opportunities, and role in and support for the Living Lab;
  3. A workshop bringing together the diverse ideas for the Living Lab;
  4. Case studies on circular economy governance and business support practices.

This will result in a shared plan to realise and fund the Yorkshire CE Living Lab.

Impacts during the project will include more understanding among various local and regional governance bodies, immediate ideas to support local business development, and a network of universities collaborating for the regional implementation circular economy practices.

Longer term impacts include a more resilient business community, local jobs, and more amenable governance for circular economy, while positioning Yorkshire as a global example of low-carbon and sustainable circular economy best practice.