Alejandro Gallego Schmid
Senior Lecturer in Circular Economy and Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Theme lead: Resourceful Futures
What are your research interests and areas of expertise?
I am a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Circular Economy and Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment at the Department of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. I am of Tyndall Manchester - an interdisciplinary team working on relevant research on climate change sustainability, where I work identifying sustainable solutions for industrial, agricultural, textile, construction, water and energy systems on a life cycle and circular economy basis, taking into account economic, environmental and social aspects.
My research experience, both in industry and academia, has been focused on:
- Circular economy
- Life cycle assessment (LCA)
- Life cycle costing (LCC)
- Social sustainability assessment
- Multi-criteria decision analysis
What is the focus of your current research?
My current research is focused on: i) the role of circular economy to tackle climate change and achieve net-zero solutions; ii) the implementation of circular economy in renewable sources of energy; iii) circular economy and the informal waste sector in the Global South; and iv) the nexus between circular economy and digitalization.
What are some projects or breakthroughs you wish to highlight?
Currently, I am the University of Manchester Principal Investigator on the EPSRC £1.1M "Environmental impacts of digital services for health and wellbeing in the home". I lead, as part of Innovate UK project, the quantification of the carbon footprint of a new graphene-enhanced and low-carbon cement. I also currently work on a range of other funded projects including: i) DRES ME: a research partnership with Tesco PLC to study how data analysis can help to scale up textile recycling; ii) a funded research collaboration in Sustainable Urban Technologies with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm Universities (Sweden); and iii) ‘Contemporary Crises and Net Zero Transitions: COVID-19, Energy and Ukraine’ project in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the University of Toronto
What do you feel is the biggest challenge in sustainability right now?
Tackling climate change is the most important sustainability challenge that we have at the moment due to the urgency, the magnitude of the challenge and the implications it has. If we consider the planetary boundaries, humanity is also severely affecting the biochemical flows of nutrients and generating a massive biodiversity extinction. The amount of plastic reaching the oceans and the potential impacts associated are also concerning. From a more generic perspective and considering the level of damage already inflicted, we have to be ambitious and start to consider regenerating approaches rather than just only trying to achieve sustainability. Finally, the analyse of the social impacts remains underdeveloped and the current level of inequality is one of the major challenges remaining as humanity and seriously affect the implementation of potential solutions to tackle the sustainability issues mentioned above.
What real-world challenges do you see sustainability-focused research having an impact on in the next 10 years?
We have to focus more on the use of resources. Many of the sustainability problems we have at the moment (e.g. plastic in the oceans or climate and biodiversity crisis) have a direct link with the linear economy and the way we extract, produce, use and discard resources. Any research that improves this abusive use of resources (for example, the implementation of circular economy principles in all sectors) will have a significant impact in the next years.
Find out more about Alejandro’s research here.
Find out more about the Resourceful Futures theme here.