Concern about the sustainability of products is growing rapidly, particularly because of global warming. At present, much of the response to this concern has focused on development of measurements of likely impacts. However, whilst allocating impacts to products helps to inform final consumer choice, it does not help to identify improvements to product design or production. It is also unclear that a sufficiently large reduction in impact can be made through incremental adjustments in the way that existing products are made. Our research therefore aims to identify the physical, commercial and systematic changes needed to make the required reduction in the environmental impact of production, use and disposal of products, and to develop and demonstrate new approaches.
Our research aims to identify answers to this question and to support different approaches through the development of innovative technologies:
- What would make a big difference? – we have completed the first study on how to transform an industrial sector (clothing and textiles) to have sustainability as its goal, and have also evaluated the potential of a transition to localised production. Now, we are developing an engineering basis for future global energy efficiency and working on the practical steps that can be taken at business unit level to reduce carbon emissions.
- Technologies for non-destructive recycling - we believe that intelligent re-use of materials, without destroying their structure as occurs in conventional recycling, will be central to a future sustainable society, and are developing innovative technologies that support this model. Current projects include direct re-use of paper through “un-photocopying” and the cold-bonding of scrap aluminium
The links on the left describe our current and recent projects in this area, all of which have been developed in close collaboration with industrial partners.