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Department of Management

Professor Peter Hopkinson

Professor Peter Hopkinson

Professor in Circular Economy and Co-Director Exeter Centre for the Circular Economy




Building:One,  University of Exeter, Rennes Drive,  Exeter,  EX4 4ST, UK


I joined the Business School in 2017 where I am Professor of Circular Economy.  I set up and now Co-direct the Exeter Centre for Circular Economy, and since 2019 have been  Co-Director of the  Exetere CE-hub to co-orindate the £30M UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research (NICER) Programme.   More recently I am a Co-Director of the United Nations  Centre of Excellence for Circular Economy, and UK Government Focal point for the UN Circular Step programme. I am leading  the development  of the UKs Circular Economy Data Observatory which is designed to improve the evidence base for Circular Economy transformations at material product and national scale. In 2023 we were named as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) first Global Higher Education Partner building on over 13 years collaboration on multiple education, research and impact activities. I set up and lead a Global  Masterclass for EMF on 'Implementing the Circular Economy' aimed at the EMF 1000+ industry, business and government network. I am currently working closely with the UK Government (Defra) sience evidence and policy delivery teams to extend the CE-data observatory into impactful policy intervention and delivery

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Research interests

  • Advancement of the theory and practice of Circular Economy
  • Building the evidence base and business case for Circular Economy at a variety of scales, and across multiple material and product categories, including plastics, electronics, water, construction, medical technology, critical materials and renewable technologies 
  • Establishing a policy-led UK CE data observatory
  • Developing frameworks, indicators and metrics for system level circular economy interventions and evaluation
  • Bring world leaders in academia and industry to the Exeter Centre (ECCE) for Circular Economy to share in co-creation of new research, educational initiatives and dedicated projects for our corporate partners;
  • Disseminate innovative and important research findings through high quality research publications, conferences and via educational offerings to business, government, academics and other stakeholders;
  • Establish networks that bring business, government and civil society leaders together with circular economy academics and students globally

The wider academic approval of Circular Economy rests on the applied research projects that seek to validate, build models, test empirically and advance understanding of key issues in the field of the Circular Economy. Value creation, capture and circulation via a Circular Economy is a core focus: Specifically, I am concerned with how the Circular Economy disrupts and impacts on business models, modes of production, systemic innovation, product, and service design as well as reverse logistics. To deliver impact I am focussed on understanding how organisations can manage the transition from linear to regenerative circular configurations, providing practical insights and support to take advantage of the strategic and operational advantage of the emerging Circular Economy.

A foundation of government and industrially funded research projects underpin the theoretical and practice-based contribution of my work and ECCE based around to three major themes,

  • Firstly CE transformation of stocks of legacy materials and material assets from the linear economy into flows of high value products for circular economy products and infrastructure (EPSRC REBUILD Novel techniques to deconstruct and recover high value structural products from end of life buildings, high value re-manufacture of products for future circular construction systems)
  • Secondly CE-innovation and design of future systems to create and capture higher value from selected material flows by intent at all stages of new and existing value chains (EPSRC EXeMPLaR): System design for high value plastic material cycles; biomaterials as alternatives to fossil fuel plastics; safer by design future plastics  based on scientific evidence of health impacts of different plastics in weathered environments;
  • Thirdly, critical enablers, esp. the role of digital technologies to support data-led ‘circular’ modelling and evaluation.

Research projects

  • 2019 -current: UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research programme (Co-PI: P.Hopkinson) Leading the Circular Economy Hub to co-ordinate five national Circular Economy Centres to accelerate the transition to a UK Circular Economy.
  • 2023-current: Environment Agency (PI: Hopkinson) Circular Economy as an effective strategy for infrastructure capital and flood risk management delivery to deliver Net Zero, Decarbonising infrastructure across the full project life cycle and the role for nature base solutions
  • 2024- current: Defra (PI:Hopkinson) Warranties and Guarantees to extend the product life of electronic products. The role of consumer information, warranties and guarantees to fix and repair products rather than dispose and replace.
  • 2022-current: Various (PI: Hopkinson, Charnley) Evidence based Medtech product and CE system design to deliver NHS Net zero, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes
  • 20220 current: Various (PI: Hopkinson) Series of projects with Revolution Zero using CE system and product design to replace single use medical textiles (e.g PPE) with longer lasting, reusable, safe solutions at lower costs, reduced carbon and increased social and service user benefits.
  • 2019-2020: EPSRC Exeter Centre for Multi-Disciplinary Plastics Research (EXeMPlaR) (PI: P.Hopkinson) EPSRC EXeMPLaR: System design for high value plastic material cycles; biomaterials as alternatives to fossil fuel plastics; safer by design future plastics  based on scientific evidence of health impacts of different plastics in weathered environments;

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Journal articles

Khedmati-Morasae E, Zils M, Hopkinson P, Nolan R, Charnley F, Okorie O, Abu-Bakar H (In Press). Advancing the discourse: a next-generation value chain-based taxonomy for circular economy key performance indicators. Sustainable Production and Consumption Abstract.
Hsu W-T, Petavratzi E, Zils M, Einarsson S, Morasae EK, Lysaght O, Hopkinson P (2024). Mapping the flows and stocks of permanent magnets rare earth elements for powering a circular economy in the UK. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 47, 37-46.
Abu-Bakar H, Charnley F, Hopkinson P, Morasae EK (2024). Towards a typological framework for circular economy roadmaps: a comprehensive analysis of global adoption strategies. Journal of Cleaner Production, 434
Zils M, Howard M, Hopkinson P (2023). Circular economy implementation in operations & supply chain management: Building a pathway to business transformation. Production Planning and Control, 0-0.
Azcarate-Aguerre JF, Conci M, Zils M, Hopkinson P, Klein T (2022). Building energy retrofit-as-a-service: a Total Value of Ownership assessment methodology to support whole life-cycle building circularity and decarbonisation. Construction Management and Economics, 40(9), 676-689. Abstract.
Eales J, Bethel A, Galloway T, Hopkinson P, Morrissey K, Short RE, Garside R (2022). Human health impacts of exposure to phthalate plasticizers: an overview of reviews. Environ Int, 158 Abstract.  Author URL.
Chen H-M, Wang Y, Zhou K, Lam D, Guo W, Li L, Ajayebi A, Hopkinson P (2022). Reclaiming structural steels from the end of service life composite structures for reuse – an assessment of the viability of different methods. Developments in the Built Environment, 10
Hu X, Davies R, Morrissey K, Smith R, Fleming LE, Sharmina M, Clair R, Hopkinson P (2022). Single-use Plastic and COVID-19 in the NHS: Barriers and Opportunities. Journal of Public Health Research, 11(1), jphr.2021.2483-jphr.2021.2483. Abstract.
Nelms SE, Easman E, Anderson N, Berg M, Coates S, Crosby A, Eisfeld-Pierantonio S, Eyles L, Flux T, Gilford E, et al (2022). The role of citizen science in addressing plastic pollution: Challenges and opportunities. Environmental Science and Policy, 128, 14-23. Abstract.
Ajayebi A, Hopkinson P, Zhou K, Lam D, Chen HM, Wang Y (2021). Estimation of structural steel and concrete stocks and flows at urban scale–towards a prospective circular economy. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 174 Abstract.
Zhou K, Chen H-M, Wang Y, Lam D, Ajayebi A, Hopkinson P (2020). Developing advanced techniques to reclaim existing end of service life (EoSL) bricks – an assessment of reuse technical viability. Developments in the Built Environment, 2, 100006-100006.
Ajayebi A, Hopkinson P, Zhou K, Lam D, Chen HM, Wang Y (2020). Spatiotemporal model to quantify stocks of building structural products for a prospective circular economy. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 162 Abstract.
Hopkinson P, De Angelis R, Zils M (2020). Systemic building blocks for creating and capturing value from circular economy. Resources Conservation and Recycling, 155
Hopkinson P, Chen H-M, Zhou K, Wang Y, Lam D (2019). Recovery and reuse of structural products from end-of-life buildings. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability, 172(3), 119-128. Abstract.
Howard MB, Hopkinson P, Miemczyk J (2019). The Regenerative Supply Chain: a Framework for Developing Circular Economy Indicators. International Journal of Production Research, 57(23), 7300-7318.
Hopkinson PG (2018). Managing a Complex Global Circular Economy Business Model: Opportunities and Challenges. California Management Review
Hopkinson PG, Mishra J, Tidridge G (2018). Value Creation from Circular Economy led Closed Loop Supply Chains: a Case Study of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Production Planning and Control, 29, 509-521.
Winter J, Cotton D, Hopkinson P, Grant V (2015). The university as a site for transformation around sustainability. International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 9(3/4), 303-303.
Trowler P, Hopkinson P, Comerford Boyes L (2013). Institutional Change towards a Sustainability Agenda: How far can theory assist?. Tertiary Education and Management, 19(3), 267-279.


Hopkinson PG, Wang Y, Lam D, Ajayabi A, Zhou K, Chen H-M (2019). REBUILD: Regenerative Buildings and construction systems for a circular economy. SBE19 Brussels - BAMB-CIRCPATH "Buildings as Material Banks - a Pathway for a Circular Future". 4th Feb - 7th Mar 2019. Abstract.
Alexander AT, Hopkinson P, miller J, Miller M (2018). 21st century innovation: What is the name of the new game?. XIX ISPIM Conference. 17th - 21st Jun 2018.

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External Engagement and Impact

Awards and Honours

  • National teaching fellow (2010)
  • UK Government focal point for UN Circular Step
  • Defra fellowship for circular economy and science evidence

External positions

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I was awarded a HEA National Teaching Fellow in 2010, recognises, rewards and celebrates individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession. 

My teaching interests are focussed on inspiring anyone interested in circular economy as a positive alternative to the linear  take-make-dispose growth model. Starting with the basic theory, principles and concepts my teaching is designed to support systems thinking and the way we can actively re-design economic systems of interest to create higher economic, social and environmental value through  continuous  flows of high quality resources.

I set up the world’s first MBA on Circular Economy in 2014,  ranked Best distance learning MBA in the world for value for money and net zero

Recently my teaching has been focussed on the design of on-line courses to executives and practitioners wanting to develop their knowledge, leadership and capability to translate circular economy into effective practise. Since 2013 these courses have run over 30 6 weeks periods,, attracting over 5000 business, education  and Government practitioners achieving 99% positive feedback scores. My andragogy is largely based around peer to peer learning models where I curate learning resources to stimulate  and facilitate learning outcomes in partnership with course participants. My teaching addresses the need for system innovation to create circular systems involving the interplay between many skills and tools including design, business models, logistics, policy, finance and technology.

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