Recycling and Circular Economy Group

We are researching process technologies and the (re)manufacture of materials from secondary resources. We are developing processes that can deal with manufacturing waste or materials at the end-of-life so we can keep these materials in the anthroposphere rather than send them to landfill or energy recovery.

Nature cycle diagram

Nuss and Blengini Sci. Tot. Environ., 2018, 613-614, 569-578

Research areas


Our group is involved in the Faraday Institution-funded Recycling of Lithium Ion Batteries (Re-LiB) projectinvestigating the recycling of lithium ion batteries to facilitate a circular economy of such devices and their materials.

Mixed plastic waste

We are developing understanding and processes to convert mixed plastic waste into fuels and chemicals including naphtha (the plastic-to-plastic concept). We have three projects in this area working with academia and industry to deliver solutions toward our reliance on plastic (Innovate UK 74000-496338, BEIS Energy Entrepreneur Fund 5).

The use of decarbonised energy is the only way we can truly move to a circular economy. The Group is researching the integration of Concentrated Solar Power with pyrolysis to process waste materials with colleagues at the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR, Kuwait and Aston University on a British Council funded project.

Composite recycling

Our research into the recovery of materials from fibre reinforced composites is exemplified by our role in leading the £1.42 million EPSRC funded collaborative project called EXHUME (Efficient X-sector use of HeterogeneoUs MatErials in Manufacturing). The project researched and developed novel recycling and remanufacturing processes for composite waste, as well as assessing the environmental impact of the solutions.

As part of this work we show how composite materials could be reused across industry and have developed prototype products and demonstration pieces to showcase the potential of manufacturing materials from waste. We developed a demonstration model in the form of a 6.5 m carbon fibre racing kayak which showed that recycled materials could play a huge part in the future of manufacturing, with potential applications in high performance sporting goods, automotive components, wind and marine. The project received media coverage in Recycling & Waste World and Chem Trend.

We are still active in this research area and are undertaking a number of projects. We also co-authored a report on the state of composite recycling which can be downloaded for free from the Composites UK website.

Besides the above, we are also processing biogenic (biomass residues) and other anthropogenic materials and assessing their use as resources (chemicals, materials, fibres). Of special interest is the assessment and development of recovery technologies and their integration into the process environment.

Supercritical fluids and ionic liquids

Using these media, the group are actively researching processes to control crystal form and particle formation technologies that lead to enhanced performance of materials used in solar, food, pharmaceutical and packaging applications. The development of processes based on supercritical fluid and ionic liquid systems are areas of particular interest, including the measurement and modelling of non-Ideal phase behaviour, extraction and separation.

Current funded projects

  • Faraday Institution – Recycling of Lithium Ion Batteries (Re-LiB) project
  • BEIS – Energy Entrepreneurs Fund 5. Development of a plastic waste-derived fuel or industrial burner application. Collaborative research led by Recycling Technologies Ltd
  • Innovate UK - Development of a plastic waste-derived chemicals, Collaborative research led by Recycling Technologies Ltd
  • British Council - Pyrolysis of MSW using Concentrated Solar Power with Aston University and KISR, Kuwait



Prof. Gary Leeke

Dr Andy Ingram