Circular Economy

The transition to a circular economy is critical to tackle global challenges including climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. LSE has a key contribution to make as a research and educational institution with global outreach.


What is the circular economy?

The circular economy is a way to design, make, and use things within planetary boundaries. It is based on three key principles:

1. Eliminate waste and pollution

2. Circulate products and materials

3. Regenerate nature

What contributions can LSE make?

As part of our Sustainability Strategic Plan, we can contribute in a number of ways.


The circular economy is a key concept that all LSE students should be familiar with, and features in different areas of LSE’s curriculum. Examples include LSE’s Geography and Environment Department (MSc Sustainable Development) and the European Institute (MSc Political Economy of Europe). 

LSE educators have a key role to play in embedding circular economy in our teaching and learning experiences, and can find practical guidance on how to do this by exploring their higher education resources.

LSE academics may apply for one of four fully-funded places per year on the University of Exeter's Circular Economy Masterclass (6 weeks; part-time) – to apply contact LSE's Sustainability Team

‘I enjoyed the Circular Economy masterclass and found it incredibly valuable. It was really useful to see how principles of CE are being taught, and it was great to meet other like-minded colleagues working on circularity both inside and outside the education space.’

Jillian Terry, LSE100 Co-Director


The circular economy is a great opportunity for cross-disciplinary research collaboration on sustainability at LSE, as all disciplines can contribute signficantly.

Research subjects relating to the circular economy are diverse and numerous, some examples being:

A growing number of companies are using circular economy principles and practices to redesign their products and services, creating scope for applied research and innovation. If this is an area of interest, Eolos is a Berlin-based consultancy specialised in translating research into practice and helping industries to apply cutting-edge research on new frameworks, technologies, and ideas for circular economy. Find out more on their website.


We work in partnerships within LSE and externally to raise awareness about the circular economy and its benefits.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation - LSE is a Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Network, and we are working with the Foundation on delivering a range of collaboration opportunities. LSE's Sustainability Team is the liaison with the Foundation and can be contacted for queries. Read our Network Partner announcement here.

Eolos - Connecting staff and students with industrial partners to translate their research into practice.

LSESU Circular Economy Society - This society is for students who are interested in the circular economy and would like to learn more about it both through theoretical inputs and hands-on activities. 

Engagement and Leadership

LSE actively promotes the circular economy concept. Some recent examples include:

  • Professor Nick Stern, - Ellen MacArthur Summit 2020 - The Role of Circular Economy in Transitioning to Low-Carbon – Watch the video

  • LSE’s Grantham Research Institute - What does the circular economy have to do with meeting climate goals? – Read the blog

Our School (Operations)

LSE is embedding circular economy principles in its operations, including our approach to managing our waste and resources, our catering, or our responsible procurement of goods and services.



Staff and students: Ellen MacArthur Foundation circular economy introduction, Circular Economy Shows, Podcast, and YouTube channel

Educators: Higher Education resources pageCircular Economy Professional Learning Guide and the University of Exeter's Circular Economy Masterclass.

Students: LSESU Circular Economy Society