Circular Industries

The province of Zuid-Holland has a strong manufacturing industry. This industry is heavily dependent on raw materials and fossil fuels. If current trends are to accelerate, the following years will see an energy transition, exponential increase in data transfer and a shift to increasing automation. These shifts will have environmental, economic and social implications. Industries will need to re-think the materials they use, the design of their products and how these products are disposed. This is already underway; interest in urban mining, bio-based materials, and alternative business models is increasing. The Circular Industries Hub supplies the knowledge needed to aid the transition towards circular materials and products, bridging science with practice. 


To accelerate the transition towards a circular economy, it is important to design out waste and pollution, to keep products and materials in use for longer, and to regenerate natural systems. For this, a holistic approach is necessary. The Circular Industries Hub brings together leading research from Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam from fields such as Industrial Design Engineering, Industrial Ecology and Supply Chain Management, offering research from the perspectives of: 

  • material technology and product design engineering 
  • resilient, responsible and sustainable supply chains 
  • circular business models  
  • transition management and governance 

The core themes are: 

  1. Electronics: How can we design for disassembly, repair, recycling? How can we have conflict-free supply chains? Which raw materials will be critical in the future? What are the resource implications of scaling up: 5G, edge computing, quantum technology, photonics, IoT? 
  2. Automation: What is the potential of additive manufacturing? What are the impacts of hyper-automation on the nature of human work and globalisation? What will it mean for the mining sector, recycling sector, manufacturing sectors?  
  3. Healthcare: To what extent can waste be eliminated from hospitals? Can nutrients be recovered from pharmaceutical waste? What would a circular healthcare practise look like? 
  4. Bio-economy: What is the potential of biobased polymers, plastics, nanocomposites? What role can biomaterials play in packaging and regeneration of nature? How can textiles be kept in use for longer?  
  5. Renewable energy: What are the material requirements for the electrification of heavy industry? How to design a circular solar panel? What is the political economy of the renewable energy transition? 

Student Projects 

We work with companies, government and NGOs to find challenges they are facing, and together formulate relevant research questions for students. In small research groups, graduation students from the universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam approach the research topics from their respective disciplines, coming up with holistic recommendations for real-world questions.  

We organise interdisciplinary LDE CfS labs focusing on hub specific themes for master graduate students from the LDE-univerisities. While these labs are led by an academic supervisor who lead and facilitate the interdisciplinary program, students graduate from their own faculty and therefore organize their own team of supervisors.  The labs provide an additional opportunity from which you can expect:  

  • Research cases that are directly linked to real-life challenges of companies 
  • Access to a network of companies and researchers relevant to your research 
  • Extra seminars and guest lectures in their field 
  • Biweekly meetings with their fellow hub-students to gain new perspectives and research and design methods 

Read more about this on our education page

Circular Industries Talks

Every second Wednesday of the month, the Circular Industries theme organises the Circular Industries Talks. The goal of the Circular Industries talks is to share knowledge across Leiden, Delft, and Erasmus universities and to complement and deepen the knowledge already available within the Circular Industries Hub. As such, the CI talks serve as a platform for researchers from Leiden, Delft, and Erasmus universities focusing on topics around resource use, resilient, responsible and sustainable supply chains, material technology and product design, transition management and governance circularity.

More about the Circular Industries Talks


We bring together multidisciplinary knowledge about urgent social issues in the form of white papers. Read more about 'Raw materials, Money and Geopolitics: towards a sustainable and social energy transition in Europe', about critical materials and the energy transition (June 2022). 

More about the Whitepaper

Projects & Partners

EIT Raw Material Project Insyshub & Upcycle Your Waste

More information


Interested to collaborate?

Contact Elise Blondel, Scientific Coordinator of the theme Circular Industries


JHWInterested in the EIT Material Project and/or Upcycle your waste?

Contact Jan-Henk Welink, Circular Industries Project Manager 


Other Knowledge & Innovation themes

Cities and regions

Cities. Frederic Paulussen.








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