International Upcycling Research Network is funded by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) for two years (from June 2022 to May 2024). This is the international collaborative project between De Montfort University in Leicester, UK (Dr Kyungeun Sung as PI) and University of Botswana in Botswana (Prof Richie Moalosi as Co-I) involving several academics and practitioners working on upcycling in the world. The background of the project is the awareness of the current niche status of upcycling despite its potential environmental, economic and social benefits. Moving from a niche to a mainstream practice could realise the full potential of upcycling. Whereas the recent increase in publications, initiatives and businesses in upcycling shows growing academic and industrial interest, research however is still embryonic. Development of upcycling theory and practices across industries, disciplines and countries is required for growth. This International Upcycling Research Network aims to facilitate such cross-industry, cross-discipline, and international research.

Aims and objectives

This network is the world’s first long-term platform through which positive synergies can be created between various international actors for collaborative endeavours to understand and promote upcycling. There are two short-term objectives and two medium-to-long term objectives. The first short-term objective is to expand our understanding of current upcycling research and practices across industries, disciplines, and countries by hosting seminars of global experts. The second short-term objective is to provide a place for collaborative investigation into the critical yet understudied area of global challenges for scaling up upcycling by organising expert/stakeholder workshops. The first medium-to-long-term objective is to generate and develop new cross-industry, multidisciplinary, international collaborative research projects and initiatives by structured discussions and dedicated meetings. The second medium-to-long-term objective is to develop and maintain the network’s website as a long-term platform through which the members could collaborate on joint research projects, funding applications, and other initiatives and actions for global scaling-up of upcycling beyond the funding period.

Timetable of activities

Advisory board meetings: June 2022 / February & July 2023 / February 2024

Kick-off meeting: July 2022

Expert/stakeholder workshops: September 2022

Seminars: Upcycling in Africa (September 2022); Upcycling in Asia (October 2022); Upcycling in Americas (November 2022); Upcycling in Australia (December 2022); and Upcycling in Europe (January 2023)

Joint research/initiative development meetings: April, June & October 2023

International Upcycling Festival: April 2024