MEng Civil Engineering

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management

Course unit fact file
Unit code CIVL30262
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit combines expertise from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and The Dalton Nuclear Institute to give students an understanding of the technical, environmental, social and policy issues related to material use, re-use, recycling and sustainable waste management.


To introduce students to the challenges and opportunities for managing waste in a range of contexts. To facilitate students to develop an understanding of material efficiency, re-use, recycling and waste at global, EU and UK scales including the related trends, drivers and legislation.
To facilitate systems thinking and creativity in relation to tackling real world waste management problems and identifying solutions and recommendations based on evidence and reasoned judgement.


 1. Resource efficiency and waste policy: definitions of waste and resource efficiency; waste hierarchy with indications of sustainability; recycling targets; key drivers of waste; EU directives; waste framework directives; polluter pays principal; council-scale policies; policy instruments

2. Introduction to the circular economy: sustainability definitions; sustainability appraisal; systems thinking; closed loop economies; techniques for developing a circular economy.

3. Waste in the construction industry: materials and waste products; reuse/recycling in construction; processes and techniques for moving construction materials up the waste hierarchy; material efficiency.

4. Energy recovery from waste: Power plants and uses for ‘waste’ products’; what is ‘waste to energy’; processes and technologies for converting waste into energy; using waste as transport fuel; pollutants associated with waste products; advanced thermal conversion; advanced biological conversion.

5. Nuclear waste: fuel cycle overview; application of waste hierarchy; classification of radioactive waste; managing spent nuclear fuel; reprocessing; waste immobilisation; portioning and transmutation; nuclear waste immobilisation

6. Stakeholders and waste management facilities: relevant waste stakeholders; effective stakeholder engagement; why stakeholders see waste and sustainability issues differently; types and ethos of engagement; interpreting risk

7. Landfill: policy context; drivers, trends and issues in UK and globally; landfill technology; future of landfill.

8. New business models: examples of circular economy and resource efficiency innovations and businesses.

Knowledge and understanding

Intellectual skills

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 80%
Report 20%

Feedback methods

Through TurnItIn within 15 working days of submission (assuming submission is made on time) and through lecture for class level feedback.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 4
Project supervision 20
Tutorials 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 52

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Carly McLachlan Unit coordinator

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