Symposium 5: The Circular Economy

London, UK, 30 April - 2 May 2018

The fifth Royal Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering for Development symposium will take place from Monday 30 April to Wednesday 2 May 2018. This will be the first Frontiers of Engineering for Development to take place at the Academy's home, Prince Philip House, in London, UK. Guests will arrive on the evening of Sunday 29 April for an informal networking reception and welcome dinner. 

What is a Circular Economy?

The term 'Circular Economy' is used to describe a system that looks beyond a "take, make, consume and dispose" linear model of resource use, to one that restores and regenerates by design. It requires us to be innovative and rethink the way we use resources so that there is less waste and minimal impacts. It means we re-engineer the system to actively build economic, natural and social capital. For more information and to explore how you might fit into the theme, please visit the Circular Economy Club or Ellen MacArthur Foundation webpages. 

Symposium Goal

The goal of the two-and-a-half day symposia is to introduce outstanding engineers (5-20 years post-doc, or equivalent experience in industry) to each other, and through this interaction facilitate collaboration in engineering for development, the transfer of new techniques and approaches across disciplinary boundaries and the establishment of contacts among the next generation of engineering leaders.


Symposium Format

The event will be made up of three multidisciplinary workshop-style sessions that explore the overall theme of The Circular Economy. Participants are obliged to attend every session to maximise the opportunity to make new contacts and build collaborative relationships. 

Each session will be focused on a sub-topic of the overarching theme, with relevant experts chairing the sessions to lead discussions.

To ensure there is a balance of formal and informal networking opportunities, social activities are organised. For example, at the third Frontiers event in Oxford participants went on an afternoon boat trip and attended a dinner at St. Peter's College. 


On the final day of the event, there will be a presentation on how to apply for seed funding. Further information on the application process can be found here

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)


Session 2: Dematerialisation 

Co-Chair: Claire Kneller (Waste and Resources Action Plan, WRAP)

Co-Chair: Raimond Belischwitz (University College London) 


Session 3: Learning from Natural Systems 

Co-Chair: Richard MacCowan (Biomimicry UK)

Co-Chair: Claire Janisch (Biomimicry South Africa)


More Information

If you would like to attend this event, please visit the How to get involved page and complete the expression of interest form. This webpage will also be updated as speakers are confirmed. 

Visit the Past Symposia page to find out more about Frontiers of Engineering for Development events.