We want to inspire circularity within a variety of industry sectors and we are currently exploring a number of innovative projects with various partners and businesses.

Textiles - mattress and bedding waste

Currently, only 27% of mattress waste is recycled or recovered.

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Challenge

Textile waste generation includes; post-consumer textile waste, any type of discarded garments and household articles made out of textiles, and pre-consumer textile waste containing by-products or residues from processes in home furnishing, apparel, furniture, automotive or other industries. 

Within this textile waste, mattresses represent a particularly problematic waste stream. Approximately 5.9 million end-of-life (EOL) mattresses, weighing an estimated 148,000 tonnes, were recovered or disposed of in the UK during 2014. It is estimated that 16 % of these mattresses were recycled, 11 % incinerated and 73 % landfilled.

The majority of the remaining mattress waste is landfilled with a highly negative environmental impact such as the production of greenhouse methane gas and slow synthetic fibres degradation.

Aim

To work with businesses to support them in establishing more circular approaches across the whole value chain, to address the issue of waste mattresses and bedding.

Next Steps

Manchester Metropolitan University is the only UK partner involved in the first European wide initiative for non-wearable textiles, Resyntex. Resyntex is a project that focuses on integrating the whole value chain from textile waste collection to recycling into a chemical feedstock. The aim is to reduce landfill, increase the value of waste via chemical valorisation processes to provide a feedstock to industry.

There are clear synergistic benefits between Resyntex and the issues of reuse and recycling for bedding and mattresses. There is great potential to drive forward a circular approach to this waste issue. As an extension to Resyntex, we are looking to work on collaborative research in the following areas:

  • Design standards to provide ease of deconstruction at end of life
  • Infrastructure collection and end market economic assessment – Municipal and Industrial
  • Technical aspects for treatment technologies
  • Policy review to inform government
  • Behaviour change and engagement

3D Printing

3D printing is challenging the way products are being made.

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Through the Faculty of Science and Engineering, we are transforming innovation in science and technology. Our appetite to lead innovation in advanced manufacturing has led to the significant investment into the establishment of Print City® a national digital training centre focusing on 3D printing.

Manchester Metropolitan will be at the heart of training of the next generation of 3D printing experts and entrepreneurs; through our various courses, we will teach over 500 students per annum. Expertise developed at Manchester Metropolitan will support the development and production of state-of-the-art 3D printing technologies in a range of sectors, building upon our initial emphasis of medical applications feeding into dynamic and growing market sectors.

The Challenge

3D printing is challenging the way products are being made and has many applications, such as creation of new products and fabrication processes, the development of medical prototypes, production of plastic moulds, garment engineering, wearable technology, fine art and jewellery. It is estimated that by 2025 3D printing could have an economic impact of $200-$500 Billion annually.

3D Printing enables unique structural designs with no manufacturing waste coupled with customised product options and exact supply and demand matching, all of which significantly reduces waste.

However to provide a truly circular approach, and one which fits with a decentralised manufacturing system, we need to ensure the materials used in the 3D printing process are sustainable and do not place an additional burden on finite natural resources and therefore align with the circular economy principals.

Aim

We are looking to collaborate with industry partners to:

  • Assess what the requirement is for Circular Economy 3D production systems adoption.
  • Technically evaluate the feasibility of using recycled material as a feedstock for 3D Printing and assess feasibility on a number of waste streams and via different design parameters.
  • Appraise collection, segregation and treatment requirements for secondary material market input.
  • Assess how distributed models of production, enabled by 3D printing, change the geographical scale at which it is economic or desirable to close the loop. For example: where do natural and recycled resources fit in responsible supply chains as inputs to responsible production?

Next Steps

Our research is directed towards developing 3D printer filaments produced from recycled plastic waste but with useful additives that add functionality such as conductivity, improved durability, strength and biocompatibility.

The approach will be multi-disciplinary and will drive 3D printing at Print City® and beyond to achieve a truly circular manufacturing model.

Waste and Recycling Carbon Literacy Training

Engaging and educating the population of Greater Manchester on the importance of waste and recycling, which produces behaviour change.

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There are over 99,000 students studying and living in and around Greater Manchester.  WRAP have identified the need to provide specific educational training to 18-24 year olds to promote behaviour change to increase recycling within the Higher Education sector. Other sectors with significant responsibility include Landlords (social and private), council members, government officers and collection crews.

Aim

To develop and deliver a ‘waste and recycling’ carbon literacy training module via workshops and Elearning;

Provide a ‘living lab’ for the on-campus student engagement and work in collaboration with key partners to engage with the general public and landlords via their landlord environmental accreditation scheme.

Next Steps

To establish partnerships to deliver the training to the key audiences identified. 

PhD Research

We have two PhD students offering further insight into key challenges.

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We currently have two PhD students who are working with us, their research into future waste streams and tailored educational interventions will offer further insight into key challenges the waste sector and local authorities face in meeting the needs of a circular economy.

Carly Fletcher

Carly’s research aims to demonstrate barriers to effective policy implementation. To date this has included a policy appraisal of national waste strategy documents against Europe’s Circular Economy package, use of an expert opinion survey to understand unintended consequences of secondary legislation, and assessment of End of Waste criteria using the utilisation of Incinerator Bottom Ash as an aggregate as a case study. 

Future research will use stakeholder interviews to develop potential solutions to overcome unintended consequences and assess the industry’s view of waste policy in light of Brexit, the EU’s Circular Economy Package and tougher landfill diversion/ recycling targets.

Sheryl Lee

Sheryl Lee is a Chartered Environmentalist and currently a part-time PhD student.  Her research aims to devise tailored educational interventions to improve municipal material recycling rates achieved by English Local Authorities.

Waste 2 Resource Innovation Network