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Building a Digital Circular Economy for the Packaging of Fast Moving Consumer Goods

Applications are invited for our EPSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) PhD studentships that will support six (6) research projects starting 1 October 2022. One of these projects is “Building a Digital Circular Economy for the Packaging of Fast Moving Consumer Goods led by Dr Lucia Corsini in the Brunel Design School

Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend of £18,062 including outer London allowance plus payment of their full-time tuition fees for a period of 42 months (3.5 years).

You should be eligible for home (UK) tuition fees but there is a limited number of studentships (no more than two) available to overseas applicants, including EU nationals, who meet the entry criteria.

The Project

Returnable and reusable packaging is emerging as a promising solution to help reduce the use of single-use plastic and associated pollution. Multiple retailers in the UK have introduced pilot schemes to trial reusable packaging systems for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) including food, drink, beauty and homecare products. This project will investigate how digital tracking technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can be used to provide packaging with a unique digital identification so that it can be efficiently returned and reused. It aims to develop an automated collection and sorting system to demonstrate the potential of digital tracking technologies to drive efficiencies in the closed-loop supply chain. The project will be developed with support from an industrial partner.

Please contact Dr Lucia Corsini at lucia.corsini@brunel.ac.uk to find out more about the project.



You will have or will receive an undergraduate degree classified at 1st class or 2:1 (honours) in engineering, product design engineering or a relevant subject. A postgraduate masters degree may be an advantage. Where appropriate, applicants must have English language proficiency to an overall score of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

Skills and Experience

You should be a highly motivated individual and possess a strong sense of curiosity. The ability to study independently, think critically and collaborate with others is essential as your main stakeholder will be an industrial partner.

How to apply

Email the documents below as a single PDF file to cedps-studentships@brunel.ac.uk by 16:00 on Wednesday 25 May 2022. Please state the name of the project supervisor in your email.

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • Your 300-word personal statement setting out why you are suitable for this position;
  • Your Undergraduate/Postgraduate Masters degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Your English Language qualification of IELTS 6.5 overall or equivalent, if applicable;
  • Two references, one of which can be provided by a member of Brunel University academic staff.

Interviews will take place in June 2022.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Lucia Corsini - Dr Lucia Corsini is a Lecturer in Product Design Engineering and has over ten years’ experience working on design and engineering projects in the public, private and Third Sector. Her research applies design and systems thinking approaches to solve complex societal challenges. Lucia's current work is focused on how digital technologies can advance the Circular Economy. She is a member of the Sustainable PLasticS researcH group (SPLaSH), Design for Sustainability Research Group and the Cambridge Creative Circular Plastics Centre (CirPlas). Lucia has held research positions at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, where she was awarded an EPSRC DTP Fellowship at the Department of Engineering. Lucia holds an MEng, MA (Cantab) and EPSRC-funded PhD in Engineering from the University of Cambridge. Her PhD was awarded a Doctoral Prize from the University of Cambridge’s School of Technology, awarded to only two PhD researchers for the most outstanding research. Lucia has been awarded research development and public engagement funds for her work on reusable packaging by Brunel University, and was previously the co-investigator on a CirPlas grant at the University of Cambridge focused on the circularity of polyethylene (PET) in resource-limited settings. Lucia has also previously received two awards from the Cambridge-Africa Fund (totalling £42k), which focused on how digital technologies can boost resilience to crisis and enhance long-term sustainability. Related to this work, she was part of a team that received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Impact and Engagement (2020). Lucia has received notable awards for her research from the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, Smart Villages, the Cambridge Malaysian Education and Development Trust and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative.  Lucia has published papers in prestigious international journals such as Sustainability, Production Planning & Control, and Technology in Society and is the guest editor of a special issue on Design and Sustainability in Sustainability. Lucia has also contributed to national and international conferences, workshops and roundtables on sustainability, including as an invited speaker at the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resources Group, the Cambridge Forum for Circular Economy Approaches to Eliminate Plastic Waste and Cambridge Climate Change and Sustainability Forum. Additionally, Lucia advises on policy issues for governments and international organisations, and she has written reports and articles for the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the World Economic Forum, and the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. She is a consultant for IfM Engage at the University of Cambridge where she supports the development of Wellcome Trust-funded Adaptive Molecular Diagnostics for Low and Middle Income Countries.

Related Research Group(s)

Inclusive Design

Inclusive Design - Inclusive Design Research Group at Brunel University London brings together multidisciplinary expertise to understand different factors causing exclusion, to develop methods and interventions for improvement, and to advance the knowledge of design for inclusion.