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THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CONCEPT IN THE FORMATION OF EIDOS DOCTORATES (UPV/EHU)

Authors:
THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CONCEPT IN THE FORMATION OF
EIDOS DOCTORATES (UPV/EHU)
Gotzone Barandika1,2, Begoña Bazán2,3, Miren-Karmele Urtiaga,3 María-Isabel
Arriortua2,3
1 Departamento de Química Inorgánica, Facultad de Ciencia y Tecnología, University of the
Basque Country UPV/EHU (SPAIN)
2 BCMaterials, Building 500, Bizkaia Science and Technology Park (SPAIN)
3 Departamento de Mineralogía y Petrología, Facultad de Ciencia y Tecnología, University of
the Basque Country UPV/EHU (SPAIN)
Abstract
The European Commission has adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package (2015), which
includes revised legislative proposals on waste to stimulate Europe's transition towards a circular
economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate
new jobs. The Circular Economy Package consists of an EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy that
establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle:
from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials.
The proposed actions will contribute to "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater
recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. Then, a new
relationship with our goods and materials would save resources and energy, and this implies that
scientific activity should be committed to the H2020 energy challenge. In this context, EIDOS is a
research group at the University of the Basque Country, which focuses its activity in Materials Science
with the aim of creating new materials for energy storage and transport. Thus, this work explores the
way in which the concept of circular economy has been included in the formation plan of EIDOS
doctorates. To this purpose, an analysis of the research strategy included in the last doctoral theses of
EIDOS has been performed. The research strategy is usually focused to contextualize the thesis
project within the social needs. The results indicate that the circular economy concept has been
adopted by EIDOS students in relation to two main points: green production and recycling of new
materials for energy and catalysis.
Keywords: Circular economy, green production, recycling.
1 INTRODUCTION
Cleaner production, eco-industry and circular economy are the three mainstreams in the development
of today's environmental strategy. In particular, a circular economy is an alternative to a traditional
linear economy (Fig. 1) which can be describe by the series take-make-waste. [1-3] On the contrary, in
a circular economy resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from
them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
[4] In this context, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package
(2015), [5] which includes revised legislative proposals on waste to stimulate Europe's transition
towards a circular economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic
growth and generate new jobs. The Circular Economy Package consists of an EU Action Plan for the
Circular Economy that establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of action, with measures
covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for
secondary raw materials. Thus, sustainability and competitiveness are concepts linked through the
Circular Economy which is expected to bring benefits for European businesses, industries, and
citizens alike.
Proceedings of EDULEARN17 Conference
3rd-5th July 2017, Barcelona, Spain
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
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Figure 1. The take-make-waste series of linear economy.
The proposed actions will contribute to "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater reuse,
repair, remake and recycling, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. Then, a
new relationship with our goods and materials would save resources and energy, and this implies that
scientific activity should be committed to the H2020 energy challenge (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. The paradigm of circular economy: "closing the loop" of product lifecycles.
EIDOS is a research group at the University of the Basque Country, which focuses its activity in
Materials Science with the aim of creating new materials for energy. Thus, introducing the concept of
Circular Economy has been recently assumed to be a priority in the formation of doctorates, and this
work explores the way in which that challenge has been faced.
2 METHODOLOGY
EIDOS research group has been developing and improving its own management system for the last
nine years, and specific interest has been devoted to the assessment and improvement of the
formation plan of doctorates. [6-10] In this scenario, we identified the research strategy of the group as
the adequate context to introduce the concept of Circular Economy. Doctoral theses projects are
aligned with that strategy, and the formation plan of doctorates is included in the doctoral theses
make
use
reuse
repair
recycling
remake
Raw
materials
CIRCULAR
ECONOMY
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projects, so this is the way we have introduced the concept of Circular Economy as a prior aspect (Fig.
3).
Figure 3. The formation plan of doctorates is included in the thesis project which is a substantial aspect of
the research strategy of EIDOS.
The formation plan of doctorates designed by EIDOS is based on the definition of three types of skills:
experimental, research field, and transversal. Fig. 4 describes the desired progress in acquiring those
skills during a four-year formation period. The desired progress is quantified in terms of “autonomy”.
This is, every annual period the students are supposed to acquire a specific degree of skills that define
their “autonomy as researchers” up to the 100%.
Figure 4. Formation plan of doctorates in EIDOS research group.
Transversal skills in Fig.4 have been identified in accordance to the Dublin descriptors. [11] In
particular, we have focused on the following descriptors:
contribution through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a
substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication
ability to promote, within academic and professional contexts, technological, social or cultural
advancement in a knowledge-based society
Extending the frontier of knowledge in a knowledge-based society makes sense if researches align
their work with the current societal needs and challenges. In the case of the European Union, the
H2020 programme frames those needs and challenges. In the energy area, the EU challenge consists
of satisfying the constantly increasing energy needs while fighting climate change, [12] and the as-
developed programme is "Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy". Alignment of EIDOS activities with
those needs and challenges is a substantial part of the research strategy. Thus, once the strategy has
been identified as the adequate context to connect the Circular Economy with the formation of
doctorates, the next step is visualizing that connection.
FORMATION
PLAN
OF
DOCTORATES
Thesis project
Research strategy
autonomy (%)
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3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The strategy research in EIDOS is one of the outputs of the internal process “strategic planning”. The
last revision was carried out in 2016, and the result can be seen in Fig. 5. As observed, the strategy
consists of four dimensions.
Figure 5. Research strategy of EIDOS.
D0 is the transversal dimension where the communication and management are included.
Communication includes all kind of activities by means of which the group opens it activities to society
(the scientific community, funding institutions and general public).
D1 is the dimension where the talent of the group lies: i. e., design, synthesis and preliminary
characterization of new materials. In particular, the group expertise is concentrated in X-ray
crystallography. As a result, the new materials obtained by the group are orientated to the
characterization of their physicochemical properties, in order to identify the best of the applications.
D2 is the dimension where EIDOS collaborates with its allies in order to fully characterize the new
materials. The expertise synergy coming from research alliances is essential to orientate the new
materials to the societal challenges.
D3 is the dimension where the societal challenges appear. In the case of EIDOS, these challenges
have been identified within the need of secure, clean and efficient energy. The contribution of the
group consists of the synthesis and preliminary characterization of porous materials for the adsorption
of pollutants and gases, and for heterogeneous catalysis.
As said above, once the strategy has been identified as the adequate context, the final step is
introducing the Circular Economy concept with the formation of doctorates. To this aim, Fig. 2 has
been used to identify the aspects of the Circular Economy which are susceptible of being incorporated
to the formation plan of doctorates. These aspects are “raw materials’”, “make” and “recycling” which
are linked to the research activities of EIDOS (Fig. 6) by means of the green chemistry concept. [13-
14].
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Figure 6. Connection of the “Green Chemistry” concept to the EIDOS activities in the context
of the Circular Economy.
The reactants used in EIDOS for the synthesis are basically metallic salts and organic compounds for
ligands and solvents. So, in EIDOS the use of environmentally friendly compounds as raw materials is
a priority. Additionally, new synthesis routes are being developed to minimize time and temperature
(soft-condition). On the other hand, new bioinspired catalysts are being design in the solid state in
order to guarantee that catalytic process is heterogeneous, which is essential to produce recyclable
catalysts.
EIDOS-produced bioinspired catalysts merit special attention. In fact, the role of catalysis in waste
minimisation was recently discussed and illustrated by R. A. Sheldon, [15] with examples of green
catalytic processes such as aerobic oxidations of alcohols, catalytic CC bond formation and olefin
metathesis. Sheldon claims that biocatalysis has many benefits in the context of green and
sustainable chemistry, and it is worth mentioning that biomimics is one of the research areas in
EIDOS.
In summary, the results indicate that the circular economy concept has been adopted by EIDOS
students in relation to two main points: green production (environmentally friendly reactants, soft-
condition synthesis) and recycling of new materials for energy and catalysis.
4 CONCLUSIONS
The European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package in 2015, and EIDOS
research group proceeded to include the concept of the “Circular Economy” concepts into the
formation plan of its doctorates. With this aim, the research strategy has been identified as the
adequate context to connect it the formation plan of doctorates though the thesis projects. The results
indicate that the aspects “raw materials’”, “make” and “recycling” are directly linked to EIDOS
activities, and the connection takes place through the concept of “green chemistry” which involves
environmentally friendly reactants, soft-condition synthesis, and recyclable biocatalysts.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This work has been supported by the “Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad” (MAT2016-76739-R
(AEI/FEDER, UE) and the “Dpto. de Educación of the Basque Government” (Basque University
System Research Groups, IT-630-13).
make
use
reuse
repair
recycling
remake
Raw
materials
CIRCULAR
ECONOMY
GREEN
CHEMISTRY
environmentally
friendly reactants
soft-condition
synthesis
heterogeneous
biocatalysts
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