Establishing a Circular Economy for Leather Products PhD

Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Entry requirements:
3 years
not available
Reference number:
Start date:
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
15 March 2018



in the UK for research quality

REF 2014


in the UK for Mechanical Engineering

The Complete University Guide 2018


of 2 Queen's Anniversary Prizes


Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. 

Project detail

The world’s first footwear recycling system was developed by a team of researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART) at Loughborough. This footwear recycling system is able to recover different material streams from footwear including leather, foam, rubber, plastics, and textiles by using various fragmentation and separation processes including granulation, air-based, density-based and size-based systems. It currently recovers materials that are considered to be ‘down-cycled’ and only suitable for low value applications such as insulation, construction and surfacing materials. Higher quality and purity of materials can be achieved through repetition of fragmentation and separation processes, but this increases throughput time and hence the overall cost of recycling. While the system has proved thoroughly practical in terms of technology, it needs to operate on a large scale basis in order to become commercially viable.

The successful candidate is expected to investigate novel and advanced recycling systems in which a range of used products with similar material content can be processed. These systems utilise a series of ‘plug and play’ interchangeable processes to provide flexibility to recycle on the same line leather apparels (including leather luxury goods such as handbags, briefcases, wallets, purses and travelling bags), as well as leather products from other manufacturing sectors such as automotive and furniture industry. This research will benefit from direct involvement of a wide range of relevant stakeholders including footwear manufacturers and retailers, chemical producers and tanners, as well as designers, consumers and charitable organisations.


Primary supervisor: Professor Shahin Rahimifard

Find out more

For further project details email Professor Shahin Rahimifard or register your interest and ask us a question.

To find out more about the Centre for Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies, please visist their website.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Mechanical, Manufacturing, and/or Electrical Engineering or related subject.

A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Industrial Automation and Engineering Design.
Please note that applications will be considered as they are received and an appointment to the post may be made prior to the closing date. Please submit your application form without delay.

All students must also meet the minimum English Language requirements.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. If you do not have funding, you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Outstanding candidates (UK/EU/International) without funding will be considered for funding opportunities which may become available in the School.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. Please quote reference number: SR09112017