Circular Innovations (CIRCUIT) Research Centre

Using a holistic approach, we are helping to convert the current linear economy, with its waste surplus and resource limitations, into a sustainable circular economy.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi | Everyone can contribute, a piece of the puzzle, and by working together we can all flourish.

Aotearoa and the rest of the world function, for the most part, on a linear economy; we extract, manufacture and then dispose of natural resources. This unsustainable economy is wasteful, it is expensive, it negatively affects our health, it destroys the environment AND it disposes of potentially valuable materials.

New Zealand’s Ministry of the Environment have taken steps to have Aotearoa be a circular economy by 2050. This means that resources will be used for as long as possible, there will be no single use for anything. Once something has reached the end of its service life it will be remanufactured, or recycled, or composted.

Aotearoa's natural resources provide a significant competitive advantage as the world moves away from fossil fuel-based products to bio-based materials, products and chemicals. Therefore transitioning towards a circular economy presents both a great innovation challenge and a tremendous opportunity.

Our research

The Circular Innovations (CIRCUIT) Centre has assembled an experienced team with multi-disciplinary expertise, who will work with industry stakeholders and communities to address the issues, and find the best solutions to transition Aotearoa into a low carbon circular economy for long-term economic prosperity.

The Centre looks at all aspects of the circular economy transition: education, discovery, applied solutions, and social & economic aspects. We undertake ‘ground-breaking’ fundamental science and applied research across all areas of science, engineering, management, economic, educational and health science disciplines. Our goals are:

  1. Identify: Through consultation with stakeholders (industry, iwi, and other community groups) we will identify the major technical, societal and environmental issues that need to be prioritised for the transformation to a circular economy.
  2. Development: We are developing teams within the Centre who will use their wide-ranging expertise to build solutions to all issues identified. These solutions will look at both the technological and social elements to create a plan where stakeholders and society will be able to and willing to implement the recommended modifications to transition towards a circular economy.
  3. Create: We have established a platform that allows leaders of academia and industry to share in the creation of and development towards the transition to a circular economy. This platform will also lead to the co-creation of new research, educational initiatives and dedicated projects.

The Centre will also leverage the strong cross-disciplinary relationships with centres like, Ngā Ara Whetū Centre for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Society, the Centre for Green Chemical Science, Plastics Centre of Excellence, and NZ Product Accelerator, which have demonstrated significant impact in the past.

We take great pride in the projects we do. The following are some of the projects we have worked on.

  • Huri Rawa, Huri Rauna: Māori-Led Circular Economy
  • Closing the Loop on PPE Waste    
  • Bringing the circular economy to the medical cannabis sector
  • Circular strategies for metallic waste

How can you work with us?

Work with us and become changemakers!
We offer a variety of ways for you to access our world-class facilities and expertise. 

  • We have extensive experience in collaborative research and with our help we can solve problems affecting your industry.
  • We can help academic researchers think more broadly about the applications of their research, connect them with commercial opportunities and encourage entrepreneurial thinking. 
  • We have opportunities for postgraduate studies, internships, and other programmes that can open a door to a career in circular economy, waste minimisation and resource recovery so you can make a difference. 

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The CIRCUIT Centre will identify and champion Māori research areas and the Māori community responses to a circular economy. We will work closely with Māori researchers, communities and businesses in a way that respects rangatiratanga (the right for Māori to make decisions for Māori) and aligns with Te Ao Māori, Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection) and mauri of taonga.

Dr Kiri Dell (Ngāti Porou, Faculty of Business & Economics) will assist with ensuring that Te Ao Māori principles are incorporated and considered within the Centre at the decision-making level, and at least two positions within the Centre’s committee will be permanently designated for Māori representatives.