Utrecht University hosts international consortium of Early Stage Researchers examining the circular economy

Between 26 January and 1 February 2019 the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development will host a CRESTING consortium meeting, examining the transition to the circular economy. Circular economy scholars and 12 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) from Europe and beyond will join three ESRs based at the Environmental Governance group. The meeting will also be attended by policy advisors, industry representatives and circular economy practitioners from across the Netherlands.

The circular economy in the EU

The circular economy is emerging in policy discussions as an innovative method for socio-ecological sustainability. Based on the premise of reducing virgin resource extraction and waste leakage through closing, slowing and narrowing material and energy loops, the concept has been embraced by the European Union and many countries including the Netherlands. 

Since 2014 the European Commission has established an action agenda for fostering the transition to the circular economy, claiming its measures will increase the bloc’s competitiveness and foster sustainable economic growth, while also ensuring resource security.

CRESTING Consortium Team in Hull, September 2018.

The CRESTING project

Funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, CRESTING has recruited 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) to train in the systematic analysis of activities related to a circular economy. These ESRs are spread across eight European Universities, with additional partners in Nigeria and China working on five distinct work packages.

Over the duration of their research, these ESRs will visit two partner universities working with academics to develop their research. In addition, every six months the consortium will meet at the different university to continuing training and developing the network. Utrecht will host the second of such meetings. The first meeting was held at the University of Hull in the UK in September 2018.

New PhD students (L-R) Kaustubh, Kieran and Martin.

Three CRESTING Early Stage Researchers based at Utrecht University  

In Utrecht, Associate Professor Walter Vermeulen leads Work Package One, which assesses the existing practices and discourses of the circular economy. Working with Vermeulen are three recent additions to the Environmental Governance groupMartin Calistro Fraint, who researches the competing discourses of the circular economy; Kaustubh Thapa, who examines the leakages of waste to developing countries; and Kieran Campbell-Johnston, who compares the governance of secondary material use in various EU countries.

With 15 PhD researchers working across eight European universities, each with their specific expertise in aspects of circular economy, we will definitely be able to make a difference. In this second workshop we have planned various types of encounters with key stakeholders engaged in transforming the current economy. These close encounters will enable us to further develop CRESTING into a rich transdisciplinary experience.