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trending: trash and the circular economy

[Breaking news: no sooner had I published this post than I received a message for The Guardian Sustainable Business group about their new “circular economy hub“–there you have it!]

Want to add a touch of film festival glitter to your sustainable design conversations? Why not mention the new film Trashed starring Jeremy Irons on a global trip investigating trash and chemical waste. Yes, definitely time to ban waste. See the trailer here:

This will be a great one to show to design students as well as design professionals. You can already rent and stream it online on Vimeo (and other services):

And conveniently aligned with the theme of eliminating waste is a recent announcement that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Technology Strategy Board are running a new, large-scale competition on Supply Chain Innovation towards a Circular Economy.

The competition is large scale in offering potential investment of up to £1m “for collaborative research and development to preserve the value of products and/or materials at end-of-life and to extend their use.” This is a very business oriented competition:

Projects must be collaborative and business-led. Universities and research organisations, including research and technology organisations and Catapults, are eligible as partners but their portion of the project costs will be capped at 30% of the total. We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). The maximum value of projects is £1m and the maximum duration of projects is 24 months.

What’s interesting here is that the Technology Strategy Board (UK) is offering applicants access to design mentors before submitting an expression of interest (certain conditions apply) and requests for mentoring are accepted from 19 September to 25 October. Learn more about design mentoring in this word document.

The competition opens 04 Nov 2013, registration closes at noon on 11 Dec 2013 and the deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 18 December 2013. The Technology Strategy Board will then invite selected applicants to submit proposals due  noon on 20 February 2014.

What would students propose for a Circular Economy competition? Whatever it is, I’m sure they’d be particularly motivated by “Trashed”–even just the trailer. If you watch trashed or arrange a screening for your students or colleagues, please let us know in the comments.

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