Circular Economy : Covestro LLC and University of Pittsburgh collaborate to establish Circular Economy Program

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The rise of circular economy principles – where materials are kept in continuous use by design – across industries has led to a new collaboration between Covestro LLC and the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) and Swanson School of Engineering will house the new Covestro Circular Economy Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Covestro Circular Economy Program represents the first graduate-level circular design academic program in the U.S. to specifically address the challenge of global waste and material use. The Covestro Circular Economy Program aims to create opportunities for the research, education, and innovative advancement of circular economy principles that begin with academia and fuel real-world solutions designed to save the planet.

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The initial funding will help to establish a transdisciplinary academic, research, innovation and cooperative employment initiative to prepare students with circular economy training and expertise to carry into academia, industry, government and NGOs. Pitt and Covestro are also seeking to collaborate with corporations, foundations, and governments to expand the program’s reach and potential.

The Covestro Circular Economy Program is solving for a gap that currently exists within the academic arena. Professional training in the relevant sciences has not included holistic training in circular approaches. While the private sector embeds circular design principles into its innovation approach, academia has yet to integrate design principles in advanced degree programs. By establishing the program, Covestro and the University of Pittsburgh are providing a dedicated academic setting for passionate students and professionals to innovate new approaches to materials, design, and planning.

“Transitioning to a circular economy, while not an easy task, is a societal imperative,” says Haakan Jonsson, President and Chairman of Covestro LLC. “At Covestro, our vision is to become fully circular. As a company whose products are traditionally based on fossil fuels, we know that we have a long way to go. While we aim to be a leader in implementing circularity into our business, we also know we cannot achieve this vision alone. Collaboration with forward-thinking organizations like Pitt, and the development of leading-edge programs like the Covestro Circular Economy Program are crucially important in advancing toward a circular economy.”

Through the Covestro Circular Economy Program, Covestro and Pitt plan to create new fundamental science that supports the assembly of new tools to aid circular design. The Program will enable graduate students at Pitt to become experts in circular economy principles, informed by Covestro’s advances in this area, and ultimately create circular, sustainable products and service solutions. The first cohort of graduate students will be recruited for fall 2022.