Despite the great and justified interest in circular economy, the thinking, research and development for circular economy is still very young, and there is still a whole field of research open to enable the way to the next steps. Think for instance about measuring circularity, estimating policy measures, underpinning new business models, new technologies for recycling, dismantling and recovery, for information sharing, etc.
Leverage Research identifies the research needs to accelerate the transition to circular economy in Flanders, in order to respond optimally with R&D. The following objectives are hereby pursued:
Map the research needs of the strategic agendas and other levers, and bring them together in a circular economy research agenda.
Confront this research agenda with existing agendas. What questions are already the subject of research, both in Flanders and at the European level? How does the circular economy agenda relate to agendas in other countries, and agendas around other themes, for example on industry 4.0 and digitalisation.
Gap analysis of circular economy research in Flanders. Which are the still missing links in research and which steps need to be taken. Which knowledge domains do we need for this?
Looking for ways to stimulate this research, in cooperation with the various R&D actors in Flanders, and trying to align research programmes and funding channels.
Research for and about the circular economy
In circular economy research, we hereby distinguish between research on the circular economy and research for the circular economy:
Research for circular economy includes all research in which new solutions contributing to the circular economy are developed, such as new technologies, new recycling processes, new business models, .... This is a broad domain with a lot of projects at universities, knowledge institutions, spearhead clusters, SOCs, companies.
Research on circular economy includes all research in which solutions, policy measures, individual companies, entire value chains and sectors are analysed and monitored for their contribution to the circular economy, and from which new opportunities or challenges are detected. This research is conducted, among others, at the CE Centre (support centre for policy-relevant research).
The Research lever is pulled by Karel Van Acker (KU Leuven), Luc Alaerts (KU Leuven) and Karl Vrancken (VITO), assisted by a core group including An Van Pelt (OVAM), Mieke Houwen (EWI), Geert Thorrez (VLAIO) and Bart Mantels (VITO).