Developing a circular economy and removing plastics from the environment will be the focus of a new partnership between Teesside University and an innovative environmental start-up.
The Tees Valley is home to one of the largest process industry clusters in the UK, and Teesside University is at the heart of forging solutions to improve the environmental performance of these key sectors.
One of the big challenges is ensuring plastic polymers can be recycled, and to address this the University has agreed a new partnership with circular economy start-up business Stuff4Life.
Stuff4Life and Teesside University’s initial focus is on polyester workwear, using tried and tested methods to recover polymers, combined with novel approaches to improving resource efficiency through design, reuse and servitisation.
The partnership has led to Stuff4Life locating in the university’s assembly hall in the newly-refurbished Launchpad, part of Teesside University’s £5.6m University Enterprise Zone.
This move allows Stuff4Life to forge a close working relationship with the University’s academic experts, world-leading research capabilities and state-of-the-art facilities.
Stuff4Life will work with the University to provide real-world examples and problems to solve, along with decades of expertise in the materials, resource management and service industry sectors.
Miles Watkins, co-founder of Stuff4Life, said: “We are really pleased to have partnered with the leading University in the field of polymers to tackle one of the key challenges of our age – plastic.
“It is such an important material which has solved and will continue to solve many modern-day challenges, but in the wrong place at the wrong time it can be extraordinarily problematic.
“There is a very stark market failure that we are seeking to address here, in partnership with the best academic partners in the business – and in a part of the world where the expertise, infrastructure and above all enthusiasm is in place to create a genuine circular economy. We can’t wait to get started.”
Siobhan Fenton, associate dean for enterprise and business engagement in the School of Computing, Engineering and Digital Technologies, said: “At Teesside University we recognise how important it is to create sustainable businesses and protect the environment for future generations, so it is fantastic that we are able to partner with a business whose objectives align so much with ours.”
Associate Professor Dr David Hughes, who coordinates Teesside University’s Circular Economy and Recycling Innovation Centre and is chair of the IOM3 National Polymer Group, said: “Stuff4Life is an incredibly innovative circular business, brimming with ideas about how to re-use and recover fabrics.
“We are delighted to be working with them. I am sure together we will be able to devise some creative solutions and their input will be of enormous use to teaching and research here at Teesside University.”