Professor Mickey Howard

Professor of Supply Management

Research area

I am a Professor of Supply Management and my research examines the circular economy and sustainable supply chain management.

What is the name of your current research project, and what does it focus on?

The theme of my current project is ‘Modelling supply chain optimisation in the food and beverages industry: Helping SMEs in South West England work towards the circular economy’.  The overarching aim of the research is to model and understand the opportunities available to, and challenges faced by, small and medium-sized enterprises in the food and beverages manufacturing industry in South-West England in their efforts to transition towards the circular economy.

What other institutions/partners are involved in the project?

I am collaborating with other members of the Sustainability & Circular Economy research cluster.

In addition to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the UK, our collaborative networks with prestigious institutions worldwide include Europe: Audencia Nantes, Politecnico di Milano, Fruanhofer IML, Universität der Budeswehr München, the United States: Arizona State, Oregon State, and Asia: Fudan, Yokohama.

What impact do you hope the research will have?

The project is based locally in one region of the UK, but it also forms part of a wider examination of possible alternative business models which complement or even in some cases challenge big-business globalisation. Ultimately, our aim is to understand how all firms can transition themselves and their supply chain partners away from the typical ‘take-make-waste’ approach during production and consumption, towards designing a future where the value of all resources are recognised regardless of where they are in the process or system.

What are the potential challenges involved in your research?

Given that around 50% of domestic production in the UK is delivered by SMEs, more understanding over tools and methodologies is needed around how firms working together can implement and benefit long-term from circular thinking: what we term ‘circular business advantage’.