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Innovation Fund & Awardees

Innovation Fund & Awardees

Innovation Fund

CIRCULÉIRE’s overarching objective is to source, test, finance, and scale circular manufacturing systems, supply chains and circular business models

As the first cross-sectoral industry-led innovation network dedicated to accelerating the net-zero carbon circular economy in Ireland, CIRCULÉIRE was created to support our industry members to deliver significant reductions in CO2 emissions and waste across the programme’s lifespan.

Over 2020-2022 we had a ring-fenced network innovation fund dedicated to funding large-scale systems-level innovation. Only CIRCULÉIRE’s Network Members are eligible to lead Innovation Demonstration Projects, but they are encouraged to partner both within the network and with actors from the wider innovation ecosystem.

To learn more about calls for proposals, applications and deadlines, keep tuned on our Latest News section and our social media channels.

See below an overview of the circular economy innovation demonstration projects awarded funding from CIRCULÉIRE’s ringfenced innovation fund to date.

CIRCULÉIRE Innovation Fund’s Awardees

Awardees 2022

Circular By Design

Project Lead:                                       Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
Partner:                                                  National College of Art and Design

The global textiles and apparel industry is the joint third highest emitterof greenhouse gases globally and operates in an almost completely linear ‘take-make-waste’ system. To address this challenge, The Design and Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI), the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and the Creative Futures Academy (CFA) have come together to design and launch ‘Circular By Design’; a first-of-a-kind training programme that supports textile and fashion designers, brands and manufacturers to make the transition to circular practices in every step of their design practice, value chain and business model. In its first pilot year, Circular By Design will equip Irish textiles and apparel businesses with the knowledge and skills needed to design materials, products and businesses for circularity. Upon completion, participants will have a foundational knowledge of the circular economy and will have redesigned their value propositions, materials, products, services, and business models according to circular principles.

The project will also connect Irish designers, brands, and manufacturers with peers, experts, and innovators, both nationally and internationally, through a Community of Practice (CoP). Finally, Circular By Design will demonstrate and showcase the power of circular design within Ireland’s textile and apparel industry, by developing and disseminating best practices through an Innovation Festival and Toolkit.

Learn more:

Launching ‘Circular by Design’: Twelve Irish textile companies chosen to participate in the first professional training programme to promote sustainability in their industry

Open Access case study about Circular by Design

C-SUP | Circularising Single-Use Plastic

Project Lead:                               Novelplast Teoranta
Partners:                                        Irish Green Labs
                                                              Eventec suatainable Technologies
                                                              CÚRAM, NUI Galway
                                                              Technical University of the
                                                              Shannon(TUS) Midlands
                                                              Connacht & Ulster RWO

Novelplast Logo
Irish Green Labs Logo

Within the Irish laboratory ecosystem, large volumes of high-quality carbon-intensive plastic are used extensively. The majority of plastic supplied to labs in Ireland comes from Germany, the UK or the US with most being incinerated in Ireland after a single use. A recent national lab plastics audit completed by NUI Galway and Irish Manufacturing Research revealed that polypropylene pipette tips are the most common single-use lab plastic items being discarded.

C-SUP demonstration project seeks to speed up the circular evolution of Irish laboratories by demonstrating that single-use polypropylene (PP) labware could become a novel feedstock for Irish recyclers. This circular solution provides a way for lab workers to reduce the negative impact that their research is having on the environment.

Once this idea is disseminated via the Irish Green Labs network to the thousands of Irish labs, the purchasing of recycled PP labware by Irish lab workers, would become ‘the norm’, thus, boosting the local circular economy while also helping to mitigate against Ireland’s GHG emissions.

Learn More:

Open Access case study about C-SUP

Do More With Less

Project Lead:                                         Farrell Furniture
Partners:                                                 ATU Connemara(previously
                                                                       Office of Public Works

Farrell Logo
OPW Logo

A collaborative furniture take-back and remanufacturing scheme project that moves government from green procurement to circular procurement. The goal of this collaboration is to develop and implement a series of small-scale demonstrations of circularity within the public sector.

There are two streams within the project. In the first, obsolete office furniture, that would have been manufactured by Farrell in the mid 2000’s, will be taken back from the Office of Public Works (OPW) and repaired, remanufactured and then redistributed throughout the public sector. In the second stream, a series of classic chairs that are no longer manufactured will be studied and reverse-engineered by ATU Connemara (previously MIT – Letterfrack). This will allow their repair and reuse, keeping this classic price of Irish Design in use for many years to come.

The project will demonstrate, using these two examples, how a take back system can operate across a variety of divergent products and document the process of moving to a more circular procurement model.

Learn more:

Open Access case studies about ‘Do More With Less’ and the Crannac Chair

Medal | MED Devices a New Life

Project Lead:                                         Offerre
Partners:                                                  Peregrine Technologies Ltd
                                                                       University of Limerick

Offerre Logo
FPD Recycling Logo
University of Limerick Logo

The health sector is responsible for 4.6 % of global greenhouse gas emissions, and approximately the same proportion of pollutant air emissions. Partially, due an increasingly reliance on single-use disposable devices, particularly in high-income countries. Experience to date supports the proposition that the volume of individual producer wearable medical devices is insufficient to cost justify standalone take back, deposit, or send back schemes. Several producers have discontinued take-back schemes for cost reasons.

Medal offers a cost-efficiency and reprocessing system for these devices, extending product use, in compliance with reprocessing protocols and maintaining product integrity. This take-back system project is designed using the principles of high performance; convenience; producer engagement and system integrity, taking into consideration the requirements of key stakeholders and regulators. Medal is addressing consumer behavioural routines relating to disposal practices. The demonstrator model will assess automation solutions for cleaning and de-manufacturing and support the circular design of products and packaging. The system will provide a cloud-based platform allowing device consumers to interact with the producers of these devices.

Learn more:

Open Access case study about MEDAL CRM

MEDAL CRM – diabetes wearable devices take

Upcycled Insulation

Project Lead:                                         Cirtex
Partners:                                                  Tipperrary County Council
                                                                       Clothes POD

Cirtex Logo
Tipperary County Council Logo
Clothes POD Logo

Tens of thousands of tonnes of mattresses, pillows, duvets, furniture, and postproduction waste, like offcuts from those industries, are incinerated each year. Ireland has no answer to upcycling this end-of life material yet. Cirtex is a new Irish company that is seeking to turn this soft padding material into insulation and other useful products that can be further upcycled when they reach their “end of life”.

In this project, Cirtex demonstrates with Tipperary County Council and Clothes POD that these materials can be collected from the public in a clean and effective manner. The company will also seek to work with a bed manufacturer and recover postproduction waste and then convert these materials into viable insulation products for housing and padding for the furniture and bedding industry.

Following a successful innovation demonstration, this project will have the potential to be scaled up and rolled out across a broader cohort of recycling centres and take-back schemes for retailers. In addition to being a direct diversion from landfill and incineration, it is also providing a sustainable alternative in the same quantities to existing building insulation, furniture and bedding manufacturers for their production process.

Awardees 2021

CE Power of Many | Circular Economy & The Power of Many

Project Lead:                                        Freefoam Building Products Ltd
Partners:                                                 Mulligan Guttering Ltd
                                                                      Glenveagh Properties PLC
                                                                      Shabra Plastics & Recycling

Freefoam Logo
Mulligan Guttering Ltd Logo
Glenveagh Logo
Sharba Logo

In 2017, packaging waste in Europe reached a record 173kg per inhabitant. If we drill down this figure, construction packaging waste plays a significant part in this. The purpose of #CEPowerofMany is to develop a take back scheme for all the materials that are delivered for an installation of roofline building products.

These materials are delivered to a construction site for a new or existing house, but do not form part of the end installation. This includes minor leftover parts of the actual product installed. It also includes protective packaging that these products are wrapped in to ensure they are clean and fit for purpose when they arrive on site. As part of the project, Freefoam reviews its packaging and look to redesign the methods and materials used to aid in the recovery and reuse process. They will also explore the potential for other contractors on the construction sites to put their packaging materials into the same take back supply chain if the materials are compatible. Also, Freefoam is partnering with Shabra Plastics to develop a closed loop system from Freefoams production plant in Cork to Shabra’s plant in Monaghan, for all PE-LD and cardboard that flows into Freefoam.

Learn more:

Open Access case study about CE Power of Many

RoboCRM | Advanced Robotics To Capture Critical Raw Materials In WEEE Recycling For A Circular Economy

Project Lead:                                        FPD Technologies
Partners:                                                 Robotics & Drives
                                                                      University of Limerick

FPD Recycling Logo
Robotics and Drives Logo
University of Limerick Logo

In the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) sector, circularity is already evident in the recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) devices and products in its end-of-life. Although WEEE recycling has been in operation for over a decade now, the process is far from effective in recovering all of the necessary resources and materials needed for manufacturing the next generation of devices.

Batteries are one of the richest sources of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) for WEEE recycling plants, however, appliances nowadays contain some form of integrated battery or power pack that the user cannot easily remove or replace. These devices are effectively WEEE once their batteries are used up, and when are sent for recycling, but the conditions for such operation are not safe for humans, it’s necessary a flexible, automated system to address this challenge.

RoboCRM uses non-destructive detection methods (such as computer vision systems) in conjunction with pattern recognition and an artificial intelligence engine to identify and sort batteries and electronics containing batteries from the main WEEE stream. Once identified and categorised, these battery powered WEEE items can be processed to support greater recovery of raw materials and CRMs. This will help close the loop on this aspect of the WEEE stream.

Learn More:

Open Access case study about RoboCRM

SUCCESS | Sustainable Use of Carbon Contributes to Environmentally Sustainable Systems

Project Lead:                                        Dawn Meats
Partners:                                                 BHSL Waste Solution
                                                                      University of Limerick

Dawn Meats Logo
University of Limerick Logo

Dawn Meats is one of Europe’s largest food processing companiesproducing 430,000 tonnes of added value meat products annually, sourced from over 30,000 farmers. It has carried out an analysis on all by-products derived from the food production business with the objective of quantifying energy levels in animal by-products and sludge. There is a huge potential for this green energy through the efforts of BHSL (an animal waste to energy technology provider) and researchers at University of Limerick who had already delivered a similar project and commercial success for the poultry sector.

The BHSL technology is capable of being used on a small to medium scale level and can extract and convert the energy into a usable form. University of Limerick researchers have been working with BHSL on both the technology and nutrient values derived from the combustionprocess.

SUCCESS seeks to deliver Ireland’s first circular meat processing demonstration plant extracting maximum renewable energy from processing side-streams and residues while creating a high-value end product to service the growing biofertilizer sector. This project has the potential to transform Ireland’s meat processing sector into a circular economy model bringing benefits to the environment, economy, and society.

Learn More:

Open Access case study about SUCCESS from Dawn Meats

Awardees 2020

CESI | White Goods Repair Skillset for a Circular Economy

Project Lead:                                        WEEE Ireland
Partners:                                                 Fastrack into IT (FIT)
                                                                      White Goods Association (WGA)

WEEE Ireland Logo
FIT Logo
WGA Logo

Repair can be considered one of first and most preferred methods in the WEEE circular economy pathway; to prolong the use phase as it preserves the original state, embedded energy and material of a product. It can extend the lifecycle of a product for an initial user or support more second life reuse with one or more end users. If eco design and availability of spare parts are crucial, to ensure the lifespan of an appliance can be extended, then the availability of repair skills and trained repair technicians is a critical central component which is currently lacking in Ireland.

The Circular Economy Skills Initiative project aims to tackle the skills and training bottleneck that exists and help establish more repair and reuse specialists in the white goods sector through circular economy skillset training and the development of formal QQI Accredited appliance repair qualifications in Ireland.

The CESI project is unique in that it has industry wide support and input. The White Goods Association members inputted into the Skills Needs Analysis which was undertaken as part of this, and which determines the skills required and training modules to be undertaken by the trainees. This training is also one of the first to include a Circular Economy/Sustainability module as an integral part of the course.

Learn More:

CIRCULÉIRE Innovation Fund Webinar: Circular Economy Skillset Initiative (CESI)

Open access case-study about CESI

CESI on WEEE Ireland website

LLLB Centre of Excellence | Long-Life Lithium Batteries Centre of Excellence

Project Lead:                                        WEEE Ireland
Partners:                                                 KMK Metals Recycling

Weee Ireland Logo
KMK Logo
Wisetek Logo

Long-Life Lithium Batteries (LLLB) are a future resource for a more circular economy in Ireland. Sourced from Electric Vehicles (EVs), other mobility applications, IT and energy storage systems that have reached the end of their first life (typically 7-10 years in an EV), LLLBs can be tested, stabilised & repurposed for alternative applications such as additional power storage systems. There are currently some early programmes establishing pilot projects in Norway, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland but there are no facilities in Ireland undertaking this at present.

The goal of LLLB-CE is to research and develop a safe and circular LLLB management system in Ireland; enabling secure removal, collection, sorting and discharging of these waste batteries which can be repurposed as second life energy storage batteries or other applications, to be used again in Ireland.

Developing this process, training more people in Ireland to handle LLLB environmental management as well as connecting and developing expertise will support the establishment of a collaborative knowledge cluster; A Battery Centre of Excellence. It will help create employment opportunities across the sector and encourage training pathways for circular economy upskilling of operatives currently working in the material sorting and recycling sector in Ireland.

Learn More:

CIRCULÉIRE Innovation Fund Webinar #1: Lithium Long Life Battery(LLLB)

Open-access case study

LLLB on WEEE Ireland website