Responsible production, innovation and industry

Circular economy webinar series

From Linear to Loop

What will it take to transform our traditional linear economy into one where waste and pollution are eliminated, products and materials are circulated, and nature is regenerated?

Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials, the circular economy is a resilient system that is good for business, people, and the environment. Industries in a circular economy develop ‘closed loop’ systems that minimise use of resources by reusing, repairing, recycling, and remanufacturing; waste, pollution and carbon emissions are reduced in tandem.

Circular economies entail complex systems, products' full life cycles, and technological and commercial solutions. The transition to a circular economy requires a systemic change across supply chains, involving both technological and business model innovations, and necessitating a whole systems approach and life cycle thinking that captures and addresses complex interrelationships. Care is needed to ensure that circularity addresses all dimensions of sustainability, including social and environmental impacts.

What can chemical engineers do?

Chemical engineers have a vital role to play in transitioning to a circular economy, by engineering products, chemicals and production processes to enable their recycling and reuse, while using renewable energy and adding value to waste, within circular business models.

This collaborative webinar series project between IChemE special interest groups aims to develop members’ understanding and appreciation of key principles of the circular economy, how it can be achieved, application of the concepts in practice and associated challenges, including examples, constraints and constructive criticism. The webinars will include perspectives from across the range of members’ interests and activities, so please join us to expand your understanding, explore how the concept can be applied to different parts of the economy, and learn how you can contribute to engineering a sustainable world through circular economy practices.

If you would like to contribute as a speaker, please contact the Learned Society team via

Webinar archive

Sustainable Circular Economy: Technical, Economic, Political and Social Dimensions

18 July 2024. Duration: 1 hour.

Phil Purnell and Anne Velenturf, Professor of Materials and Structure and Senior Research Fellow in Circular Economy at the University of Leeds, discuss what a circular economy is (and isn’t!) and how it can contribute towards achieving net zero, societal equality and resource security. 

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Beyond Circular Economy: The Sustainable Management of Resources

20 June 2024. Duration: 1 hour.

Piero Salatino and Roberto Chirone, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II focus on the complexity of sustainable resource management in a growing economy. An analysis based on chemical engineering principles will demonstrate how recycling’s ability to replace virgin materials is seriously compromised by the growth of material stocks in use.

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Food Structures for a Sustainable World

16 May 2024. Duration: 1 hour.

Dr Seamus Higgins, Associate Professor Food Processing Engineering at the University of Nottingham, explores some of the environmental and sustainability challenges the industry is now facing and presents some practical steps, from an engineering perspective, as to how the industry can embrace future change, a circular economy and adapt to implementing better ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) goals.

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Measuring Progress in the Circular Economy

18 April 2024. Duration: 1 hour.

Delivered by Dr Jim Goddin, this webinar focuses on the crucial metrics and benchmarks needed to assess the circularity within the chemical engineering sector and beyond. Attendees will explore the existing tools for benchmarking the circular economy of materials, products, and businesses, and learn how to gauge circularity, set realistic targets, and chart a path forward that not only achieves these goals but also allows for the transparent communication of progress.

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Barriers and Solutions Towards Circular Chemical Economy

21 March 2024. Duration: 1 hour.

What does the circular economy mean for the chemicals industry? Find out from Jin Xuan, Professor of Sustainable Processes in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Surrey, how technical, system and policy innovations can help meet future demand for chemicals, while fostering net zero, via circular economy solutions.

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Systems, Life Cycles and the Circular Economy

15 February 2024. Duration: 1 hour.

Professor Adisa Azapagic MBE, IChemE Fellow and most recent recipient of the IChemE Davis medal, presents the first webinar in the series.

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Other resources

IChemE Sustainability Hub training: Circular Economy for Chemical Engineers.

This course will help chemical engineers understand the circular economy in the process industry as well as their role and responsibilities within material flow systems. 

The Chemical Engineer magazine article: Towards a Circular Chemical Economy: Stakeholders’ Perspectives

What images come to mind when you think of pollution? Litter-strewn beaches? Plumes of carbon dioxide from industrial chimneys billowing into the air? Exhaust fumes from bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as the eye can see?