What we do
This special interest group focused on Circular Economy will provide SIG members with expert insight into particular topics and a forum for debate, networking and potential joint commercial ventures. It is being championed by QSA Partners and Mewburn Ellis LLP.
The circular economy is often described as the opposite of the “take, make and waste” model in which materials are taken from a natural resource, made into a product which is used once and then thrown away.
More specifically, the circular economy refers to an industrial model based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution where possible; keeping products and materials in use where their use is necessary and regenerating natural systems.
- To enhance awareness and understanding of what the circular economy is
- To provide accessible events, workshops, and discussion groups for further learning
- To engage enterprises in Oxfordshire with how to implement business model transitions towards a circular model
- To develop and scale up the circular economy as a whole within the county
Recycling and the circular economy
Plastics have the potential to play a crucial role in emission-saving technologies – from advanced polymer composites making even-bigger wind turbine blades feasible, to the lightweight parts which will allow electric vehicles to push to greater distances with each charge. However, society’s reliance on plastics also presents a monumental challenge in meeting COP25’s ambitious targets, due to the emissions associated with their production and disposal.
To reach a truly green future, we must reshape our relationship with plastics, innovating to minimise the impact of emissions for plastics across their lifecycle.
Circular business models
A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. We all need to reduce our impact on the climate. Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows that almost half of the world’s climate impacts are caused by how we make and use products. So the case for change is clear: reducing the resources we use to make new products will reduce our climate impacts.
Recycling and the circular economy
Following their invention at the start of the last century, synthetic polymers have established themselves as the most versatile and adaptable materials of the modern era. Our appetite for them is insatiable, with over 300 million tons of synthetic polymers produced each year. Despite this ubiquity, polymers continue to be stretched in all directions, with innovations leading to new practical applications and higher performance levels.
A trend cutting across the entire polymer field at the moment is the push towards more environmentally-friendly technology, considering not only what a polymer can do for us now, but the “before” and “after” – the so-called Circular Economy
To date, around 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced, largely based on chemicals obtained from petroleum sources. An estimated 79% of this has ended up in landfill or the natural environment. With most plastics taking decades or even centuries to decompose, the stark reality is that these materials will be with us far into the future. Increasing consumer awareness of this problem has led to a desire for “greener” alternatives which retain properties comparable to polymers formed from virgin materials. In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in the development and use of polymers derived from biomass – so-called “biopolymers”.
Innovators are identifying clever ways to reduce the level of degradation, read more by clicking the link below.
Show-casing innovators in circular economy
Enval transform plastic waste into oil feedstock to produce new plastic, effectively closing the loop on packaging recycling.
An Oxfordshire-based printing business that sources recycled paper and uses ultra-sustainable processes and ingredients
Oxccu use CO₂ and renewable energy to make fuels, chemicals and plastics to give future generations the acknowledged benefits of hydrocarbons but without their climate impact.
Mewburn Ellis are experts in helping you to protect your inventions in the field of polymers and polymer recycling. We already work with a wide range of clients in this area and our multi-disciplinary team of attorneys are passionate about new IP developments in this field.