CIRKLA: a new centre of expertise for the circular economy


The University of the Greater Region (UniGR) - in which the University of Liege is taking part - has just launched a new initiative aimed at federating a large community around the issues related to recycling and the use of technological materials, also known as geo-sourced materials. Named UniGR-CIRKLA, the project was officially launched on 1 June during a launch day that brought together a very large virtual audience. As a teaching, research and innovation platform, UniGR-CIRKLA aims to rethink our circular economy model and our management of resources in order to ensure access for future generations.


ore than a hundred scientists, academics, industrialists and representatives of regional administrations took part in the official launch of the UniGR-CIRKLA  centre of expertise, which took place online on Friday 1 June 2021. An initiative of the University of the Greater Region (UniGR), UniGR-CIRKLA - which means "circular" in Esperanto - aims to bring together a wide audience around the issue of the use and recycling of geo-sourced materials used in particular in the construction sector. One of the many sectors in which the use of resources has always been thought of in too linear a fashion. Extraction. Production. Waste. "The case of sand extraction and use is quite telling," explains Eric Pirard, geological engineer in the UEE (Urban & Environmental Engineering) research unit and project coordinator for the University of Liege. "Every year, tens of gigatonnes of sand are extracted from mines and used to build houses or produce photovoltaic panels. In neither case will the basic resource - this precious sand - be recycled, because the means used today for its processing do not allow it. And this is precisely what we want to think about in the UniGR-CIRKLA platform. » 

The centre of expertise is intended to be cross-border, transversal and interdisciplinary, in order to bring together the largest possible community within the Greater Region and beyond. "With the creation of this new multidisciplinary centre of expertise, the UniGR confirms its desire to specialise in scientific fields that meet the technological and economic challenges of the Greater Region. By bringing together players from the worlds of business, science and administration, the event on 1 June has paved the way for a promising future", says Prof. Manfred Schmitt, President of the University of the Greater Region.

The various workshops organised in the afternoon, which were reserved for UniGR experts, enabled many ideas for concrete actions to be put forward in the short, medium and longer term. UniGR-CIRKLA already gathers several research centres, projects and experts from many scientific fields in order to create a large community around the questions and issues related to the circular economy and, why not, to the emergence of a Competitiveness Cluster in Circular Economy which would gather all the academic and industrial actors of the Greater Region.

Communication and awareness-raising initiatives are also envisaged with a view to educating and training the younger generations, but not only. "We are far from being 'circular'," says Eric Pirard, "it may take a long time, but we need to rethink our way of consuming now to ensure sufficient access to resources for future generations. And it is with this exact aim in mind that we have thought up UniGR-CIRKLA. »


UniGR - University of the Greater Region

Frédérique Seidel

University of Liège

Eric Pirard

Anne-Laure Villeminot

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