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Circular Economy Centre (CEC)

The concept of the circular economy has been gaining a great deal of attention in both business and political discussions lately. This is unsurprising because since the industrial revolution, we have been able to depend on natural resources to achieve economic growth and development and raise the standard of living. But as these resources become scarcer and more expensive, and the over utilisation of these resources is having negative impact on the environment we need to find new ways to create a more sustainable economic growth model that generates more employment and improve competitiveness.

The current 'linear' growth models that both companies and countries have adopted are heavily based on using up resources. For instance, it has been argued and is estimated that in Europe 90 per cent of raw materials used in manufacturing become waste before the product leaves the factory, while 80 per cent of products made get thrown away in the first six months of their existence.

By contrast, the circular model requires firms to come up with disruptive technology and business models that are based on longevity, renewability, reuse, repair, upgrade, refurbishment, servitisation, capacity sharing and dematerialisation. This means that businesses have to not just focus on cost-cutting but instead start focusing on rethinking products and services as well as customer propositions. Consumers and producers need to extract as much value from those resources in the most effective way possible, and then recover and regenerate those materials and products at the end of that particular useful life if possible, and the idea is to create a circular economic structure in terms of production and consumption.

Mission

The Circular Economy Centre's mission is to become a leading international source of original and seminal research, expertise and knowledge on the circular economy and the particular policy and business contexts within which this system operates. The Centre aims at becoming one of the leading hubs on the circular economy, synthesising shared research objectives and initiatives by both academic inputs as well as practitioners.

Goals

  • Introduce and promote the concept of circular economy on the academic research agenda. Various businesses in recent years have been redesigning their value chain to establishing and running circular economic activities so as to reduce the use of natural resources - and even using them in the first place. 
  • Stimulate the development of original research and case studies on the circular economy and the particular business context within which this concept operate.
  • Bring the results from the academic research back to those businesses currently practising or planning to implement circular economy activities.  
  • Establish innovation labs with businesses and government organisations relating to the circular economy.
  • Create and sustain a virtuous learning cycle between CEC research and Cambridge educational programmes. 
  • Support and enhance Executive Education's expertise on the circular economy business environment.
  • Support the development of a diverse, innovative business environment for implementing the circular economy.

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