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Circular Economy

A Circular Revolution.

At the University of Exeter Business School we're shaping the future of the circular economy.

Our unique approach merges management expertise with scientific and engineering research, fostering a systemic view that tackles social, environmental, and economic challenges.


Leading the Way on Squaring the Circular Economy.

The University of Exeter Business School is a leading centre of Excellence in the UK, shaping the future of the circular economy through our unique approach that combines management expertise with science and engineering-led research.

We focus on real-world impact through partnerships with businesses, governments, and NGOs. Our research goes beyond theory, delivering practical solutions for businesses to adopt and implement, empowering the next generation of circular economy leaders.

Our Exeter Centre for Circular Economy leads the UKRI Circular Economy Hub, bringing together 34 UK universities to facilitate knowledge sharing, foster collaboration, and accelerate research in the field of circular economy. We are also a UN Centre of Excellence and represent the UK Government in the UN’s Circular Step programme.  

Built into the fabric of our Business School, our Centre for Circular Economy is enabling a systemic approach that looks at whole systems transitions across economic, social and environmental challenges. This approach to examining the circular economy enables us to focus less on the publication of academic papers, and more on developing impactful research that leads to practical solutions with measurable results.

Our commitment to real-world impact is evident in our strong partnerships that are driving policy change and practice.  We work alongside a diverse range of partners, including SMEs, major corporations like Electrolux, John Lewis and Philips, as well as influential organisations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments.

“There’s lots of talk in academia about the circular economy. Here at Exeter, we’re doing the work and have established ourselves as the centre of excellence. We’ve gone beyond failed concepts such as corporate social responsibility and green sustainability, and we’re creating the rate of change, transition and transformation that are needed to overcome global, societal and environmental challenges.”

Professor Peter Hopkinson
Professor in Circular Economy and Co-Director Exeter Centre for Circular Economy.

A Uniquely Integrated Approach.

At the University of Exeter, the theme of circular economy cuts across a broad range of disciplines, fostering collaboration with our natural scientists, marine biologists, social scientists, engineers, and academics in the arts and humanities. This approach integrates our management expertise with a diverse range of perspectives, underpinned by a clear focus on providing data and evidence that support whole-system transitions.

We leverage expertise across all aspects of the value chain. Our teams identify common threads and themes across various industries including; healthcare, manufacturing, aerospace and automotive, textiles, consumer goods, hospitality and finance - to develop tools and methodologies that support circular economy adoption and implementation.


Enabling Impact. Driving Outcomes.

By leveraging digital technologies, we’re at the forefront of empowering a circular economy revolution, while also focusing on the behavioural changes that enable real change.  

The University of Exeter Business School plays an instrumental role in leading the UKRI Circular Economy Hub, the UK Government’s largest investment in accelerating the circular economy. This four-year programme is building a robust national data observatory, providing the evidence base for a  resilient and restorative circular economy in the UK.

Our research is built on a foundation of management principles applied to the circular economy. We focus on economy in the true sense and a framework that transforms data analysis and insights into actionable strategies delivering value across a range of sectors, from healthcare (NHS) to hospitality. Our practical approach prioritises clarity of concepts and demonstrable value creation. We go beyond theory, developing practical solutions that can be readily adopted and implemented by businesses and organisations. This focus on real-world application has led to a vast network of collaborators across various industries choosing to work with us.

Powering Education.

We are future-focused now, so are training the next generation of circular economy leaders. We translate our expertise in business, management and policy practices into educational programmes and training, including our Circular Economy Masterclass, this not only amplifies knowledge within academia but also empowers professionals to drive circular economy adoption within their organisations.

We’re building on the University of Exeter’s unique and long-established reputation for environmental research, incorporating an integrated approach that considers global trends, local needs and industry engagement, particularly with local SMEs. This approach is accelerating and upscaling the adoption of circular economy practices across the UK and beyond.

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