Symposium 5: The Circular Economy

London, UK, 30 April - 2 May 2018

The fifth Royal Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering for Development symposium took place at the Academy's home, Prince Philip House, in early May 2018. The theme was The Circular Economy explored through sub-themes of Designing for Circularity, Learning from Natural Systems, and Dematerialisation. The event was co-chaired by Professor Adisa Azapagic FREng, University of Manchester, and Dr David Greenfield, SOENECS/Circular Economy Club, London.

The symposium began with Academy CEO Dr Hayaatun Sillem welcoming participants to Prince Philip House. She challenged the participants to stretch themselves and break out of their comfort zones in the spirit of the event.

Frontiers events are very interactive, and a highlight was an activity run by Session Chair Richard MacCowan, Biomimicry UK, in which participants used string to build physical webs that explored the interactions of natural systems.

In addition to the core sub-themes the event featured two workshops. The first, run in conjunction with Chatham House, encouraged insightful and cutting edge insights from the event to be drawn out. The second, run in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, used a case study to delve into circular business models. Participants also enjoyed both structured and informal networking opportunities, including a boat trip on the Thames. 

On the final evening of the symposium, delegates were joined by the London Circular Economy at the Barbican Conservatory for a reception and dinner. The event included a challenging and thought provoking keynote from Chief Scientific Advisor to The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Professor Ian Boyd FRSE.


Event Chairs 

Professor Adisa Azapagic FREng FIChemE FRSC

Adisa Azapagic FREng is Professor of Sustainable Chemical Engineering at the University of Manchester. She leads Sustainable Industrial Systems, a multidisciplinary research group working in close collaboration with industry, policy makers and other stakeholders to help identify and implement sustainable solutions to current sustainability challenges (

Adisa is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Sustainable Production and Consumption and Editor-in-Chief of Process Safety and Environmental Protection.She has received several awards for her research, including the IChemE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering and GSK Innovation Award for masterminding the carbon footprinting tool CCaLC ( She recently chaired the Academy’s study on Sustainability of Liquid Biofuels, funded by BEIS and DfT.

Dr David Greenfield

Dr David Greenfield is the Managing Director of SOENECS Ltd (SOcial, ENvironmental & EConomic Solutions), an independent environmental research and advisory practice that he set up in 2014 following 15 years in leadership roles in local and regional government. David provides strategic advice and support to the public and private sectors and specialises in the fields of circular economy, waste management, resource management, climate change, renewable deployment, carbon management and partnership delivery.

He is a Chartered Waste Manager, a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and a Chartered Environmentalist.

David co-created and is managing the Department for Transport (DfT) Funded research project “Pothole Spotter”. He is also a non-executive Director of CIWM enterprises, Trustee and Director of Freegle, Co-founder of the Circular Economy Dinner Club, non-executive Chair of the board of directors for ADBA, Chair of the ICE Resource Management Panel, Delivery Director for the Diocese of Chichester Energy Stewardship Programme and advisor and past chair to the National Waste Network Chairs (WNC).

Session Themes 

The core themed sessions will last 2 hours and will combine short 15 minute talks from experts with interactive discussion activities which actively engage all participants. At the fifth Frontiers of Engineering for Development Symposium, the themes and Session Co-Chairs are as follows:

Session 1: Designing for Circularity 

  • Co-Chair: Catherine Joce (Cambridge Consultants)
  • Co-Chair: Kerry Kirwan (University of Warwick)
  • Speakers: Alex Moreno (FiqueTex S.A.S), Jamie O'Hare (University of Bath)


Session 2: Dematerialisation 

Chair: Raimund Bleischwitz (University College London) 


Session 3: Learning from Natural Systems 

  • Co-Chair: Richard MacCowan (Biomimicry UK)
  • Speakers: Julie Winnard (Haynard Ltd), Supert Soar (Nottingham Trent University), Giorgos Masourekkos. 


Event information (1.43 MB)

More Information

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