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Dr Costas Velis

Lecturer in Resource Efficiency Systems
Areas of expertise
Environmental engineering; Circular economy; Solid waste; (Informal) Recycling; Plastics pollution; Solid recovered fuel (SRF); Mechanical sorting; Assessment methodologies/ Indicators; MFA
304 School of Civil Engineering
School of Civil Engineering

Costas is Lecturer in Resource Efficiency Systems at the School of Civil Engineering (SoCE), University of Leeds. He has set up the Circualr Economy & Resource Recoverynetwork, as part of the Cites University Theme. His research portfolio focuses on innovation for closing the materials loop and recovering energy from secondary resources (wastes). The last two years he has worked internationally in his capacity as Leader of the ISWA Task Force on Marine Litter to prevent plastics pollution from mismanaged solid waste in the Global South. He also serves as Vice Chair for ISWA European Group and Vice Chair for the Waste to Energy Resource and Technology Council - UK. Costas is the recipient of many prestigious international awards for his research papers, including the CIWM James Jacskon Award (2015), the ICE Thomas Telford Award (2014). and twice the ISWA Publication Award (2015 and 2013).

He is published in leading academic journals, serves as Editor-in-Chief of Waste Management & Research (2019 onwards) and in the Editorial Board of Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, and regularly peer-reviews for other journals (e.g. Environmental Science & Technology, Waste Management, Science of the Total Environment, Journal of Cleaner Production, Habitat International). Costas is a Chartered Waste Manager, registered with relevant professional bodies (CIWMInstitute of Physics).

Costas's expertise in waste and resources management resulted in chairing conference sessions and participating in numerous scientific committees (e.g. ISWA World Congress 2018 in Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia, Africa Waste Congress 2014, ORBIT 2012). He often travels around the World for research projects and to deliver keynote/ invited lectures (e.g. New York, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Copenhagen, Munich, Geneva, Luanda, Athens). He was honoured to be a core author team memeber for the prestigeous first Global Waste Management Outlook commissioned by UNEP, he chairs the Waste AltlasScientific Committee, was coordinating member of numerous Task Forces of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) (e.g. Globalisation and Waste Management; Resources Management), is steering committee member of the CIWM Thermal Treatment Special Interest Group, and member of the ISWA Working Group on Energy Recovery.

Prior to joining University of Leeds, Costas worked at Imperial College London as Research Associate in Resource Recovery. He obtained a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the Centre for Energy and Resource Technology, Cranfield University. In this applied research, he contributed to the understanding of material flows through mechanical-biological treatment plants (MBT) for the production of quality assured solid recovered fuel (SRF). He holds an MSc from Imperial College London in Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Development, where he investigated the informal recycling systems in developing countries and the birth of modern solid waste management in Victorian Britain, and he received the award for Best Sustainable Project Design Guide: 'Sustainable Landfill.' Costas initially graduated in physics from the University of Athens, the most historic academic institution in Greece, with a major in Environmental Physics, researching the evolution of urban air pollution and the effectiveness of control measures in Athens from 1980 to 2000.


  • UG studies Programme Manager: Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Deputy Leader: Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering, SoCE

Research interests

Costas’s active research portfolio spans many aspects of circualr economy and resources recovery from waste, focusing for example on plastics pollution prevantion, and recycling systems in the Global South. He established and leads a state of the art laboratory specialising in production and quality assurance of secondary fuels and materials from wastes, using Theory of Sampling to ensure representative results which can be trusted. With a diverse scientific background, his research vision is to advance the agenda for the sustainable recovery of resources which are currently wasted and at the same time prevent pollution - all interlinked with meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. To this, he introduces inter-disciplinary scientific approaches to the handling of waste in a circular economy, creates networks across the University (CERRY) and facilitates the uptake of research results into the ‘real world’ through industrial, NOGO and govermantal collaboration. Key areas of expertise are:

  • Circular economy systems
  • Plastics pollution prevention modelling
  • Informal sector/ Inclusive recycling in environmentally developing countries
  • Production of solid recovered fuels (SRF) by mechanical-biological treatment plants (MBT)
  • Waste management and resource recovery systems analysis and appraisal methodologies (CVORRInteRaSoCo)
  • Global waste and resource recovery systems benchmarking (Wasteaware Cities Benchmark Indicators)
  • Waste/ materials characterisation, including measurement of biomass enegry content
  • Quality management of secondary materials, including sampling and statistical aspects