The capital institution has been announced as the Scottish partner in a £4.3 million UK project. It forms part of a government push designed to revolutionise the way resources are managed in the UK’s £32 billion chemical industry.
Scottish-based academics will be looking at barriers that currently prevent the finance sector from fully supporting innovation in the chemical industry and engaging with policy-makers to help shape the UK’s strategy for the chemical industry for the next two decades.
They will also be studying consumer behaviour and working with waste reduction charity Wrap to “empower the public” with practical advice around using by-products of the chemical industry.
The Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy is a multi-million-pound consortium of seven universities across the UK that also involves Loughborough, Cardiff, Imperial College London, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield, with headquarters based at Loughborough led by Professor Jin Xuan.
Heriot Watt’s associate professor Bing Xu, who will be leading the project north of the Border, said: “The vision of this project is ambitious – to transform the UK’s chemical industry by replacing its current linear supply chain with a highly integrated, climate-positive and environmentally friendly circular economy.
“This involves challenging all barriers to this approach and finding new ways to recover and reuse resources from domestic waste products and CO2 emissions.
“Our collaboration right across the supply chain gives us the best chance of delivering a circular economy where we maximise reuse and recycling.
“Here at the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot-Watt, we are proud to be leading on all aspects of this project around policy, society and finance. We’ve got brilliant partners to collaborate with and there is real potential to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil resources.”
The project forms part of a wider £22.5m UK government initiative to improve the UK’s circular economy in the textiles, construction, chemicals and metals.
Some 20 partners are involved, ranging from multinationals such as ExxonMobil and Unilever to local initiatives including Wrap and Zero Waste Scotland.
Colin Kennedy, Zero Waste Scotland’s sector manager in Manufacturing, added: “This is a great opportunity to lead the transition from a linear model of take, make and dispose to a circular one where everything is valued and nothing is wasted.”
The Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy is funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund, and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, and Innovate UK, with Defra and BEIS.
Earlier this week it emerged that a Heriot-Watt-based firm had secured funding for its advanced surgical devices.
Clear Surgical recently became the first client of the new multi-million-pound Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) based in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus.
The firm has now secured £280,000 of fresh investment from existing shareholders, in an oversubscribed funding round.