Coming soon! ”Circular Economy and Engineering” by Prof Norton

One Credit course “Circular economy and engineering” Prof Mike Norton 4Q

Course background and aims

The current ‘linear’ economy takes natural resources from the environment (air, water, minerals, biological resources). They enter the production system and are used to create goods which are sold in the market to consumers. Consumers then use the goods and at the end of their useful life, discard them as waste.

Since there are clear limits on the ability of the environment to provide these resources and to absorb the wastes, the linear economy is not sustainable. There have thus long been calls for the economy to move to a circular economy whereby materials are used much more efficiently than at present, and reduce the burden on the environment.

This has led to various measures in different parts of the world. The question is what should engineers be thinking about in response to these trends?

This course provides a foundation for engineers to understand the underlying forces driving the move towards circularity, and the changes that may result in future jobs.


Course structure

First Session: Course introduction. The linear economy and its consumption of resources and impacts on the environment.  Linear economy is leading to exceeding the planet’s ability to provide the resources and deal with the wastes. Planetary boundaries are being exceeded.

Session 2:  Understanding the linear economy and ways of improving resource utilisation.  Japan’s policy for recycling, organisational structures and performance; national targets etc. Introduce the concept of the Circular Economy

Session 3: Role of engineering

Design for a circular economy. Circular economy requires that materials stay longer in their useful economic life, and can efficiently return their resources to re-use at the end of life. Major waste stream recycling technologies and progress-paper, plastics, base metals etc. Examples of products which have included concern for circularity in their design.

Enquiry:  Prof Mike Norton <norton.m.aa “at”>