In the WellMet2050 project we explored the technical basis for a low carbon industrial future. With a consortium of 20 industrial partners, we identified six strategies for living well with less new material production. The outcomes of this work are described in our book, Sustainable Materials: With Both Eyes Open which was selected by Bill Gates as one of his six best reads of 2015. The first edition of the book can be read online for free, and a revised edition was published in the autumn of 2015.
The WellMet2050 work identified the options that would lead us to using less material We are now focused on understanding how this might be brought about. Our work on this topic includes:
- working with the material producing industries to examine how they can add more value to less material
- opportunities for change in materially intensive sectors such as construction, industrial equipment, automotive and clothing
- identifying market failures and other biases that prevent people from using less material and developing strategies to address these
- exploring the welfare implications of using less materials, the difference between products to which we are attached and those that remain commodities
- improving the characterisation of material efficiency and demand reduction in economic models that are used to inform environmental policy
- understanding the flow of materials through the world’s economy, and the link between materials and other resources, as part of our whole systems analysis