The rise of circular economy principles 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.
According to the company the Covestro Circular Economy Program represents the first graduate-level circular design academic program in the US to specifically address the challenge of global waste and material use. The 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. 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. By establishing the program, Covestro and the University of Pittsburgh are providing a dedicated academic setting for students and professionals to innovate new approaches to materials, design, and planning.
“The current linear consumption economy of ‘Take, Make, Waste’ is wholly unsuited for exponential global growth, especially as third-world economies evolve,” says Eric Beckman, Distinguished Service Professor and MCSI Director Emeritus and Chief of Innovation and Translation. “Principles of the circular economy, however, improve efficiency and eliminate waste by designing sustainability into a product, from its base materials and construction to packaging, delivery, and life expectancy.”
“Circular design involves a paradigm shift in thinking for everyone, from individuals to corporations to societies,” says Richard Skorpenske, head of Sustainability and Public Affairs at Covestro LLC. “As a leader in driving toward a circular economy, we see the Covestro Circular Economy Program as an important multiplier to build a robust foundation of circularity-focused thinkers, and we are proud to launch it alongside Pitt as founding partner.”
“I am very excited to apply the fundamental research we’ve developed in circular economy and expand it to create a holistic program with potential global impact,” says Melissa Bilec, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and MCSI co-director. “I believe that, like Covestro, other organizations will see the benefit of engaging in such a program that trains scholar-workers in the many possibilities that circular economy presents. Most especially, the transdisciplinary nature of our program will be its most distinct attribute. As the benefits of the circular economy grow across the globe, the necessity for it to transcend traditional STEM fields will become apparent. This opens our program to anyone with a true passion for sustainability and global impact.”
The first cohort of graduate students will be recruited for fall 2022.