R&D Sustainable Materials Management

Job description

With its research programme 'Sustainable Materials Management', VITO is fully committed to accelerating the transition to a circular economy. We are convinced that in addition to technological innovations, a broader social renewal among policy makers and companies is crucial. Therefore, we develop frameworks, models and tools that help them to make the right decisions in the transition to the circular economy.

  • The team you will be part of focuses on the underlying mechanisms of the circular economy and maps them out. We do this based on scientifically founded assessments of the economic, ecological and social impact of policy measures and strategic decisions.
  • You will help make the difference by focusing on the mapping of material and waste flows, but also by devising and evaluating strategies for dealing with these in a sustainable manner.
  • You will convert the knowledge you have gained into concrete tools and methods for companies and policymakers.
  • You further expand your network with an international dimension in order to tap into new opportunities for VITO in the field of the circular economy.
  • You also contribute to the preparation of offers for industrial clients and governments.
  • You present and publish the project results in (inter)national fora, and you ensure that your team members acquire knowledge about this theme.

Job requirements

  • You have a Master's degree in (bio-) engineering or equivalent through experience. A doctoral degree is an asset.
  • You are motivated to work in a context of sustainability and circular economy.
  • Experience in the field of materials and/or waste management is a plus.
  • You can synthesize results into usable advice for authorities and industrial clients, with a customer-oriented attitude and an eye for new opportunities.
  • Furthermore, you are a creative, flexible thinker and doer, with a scientifically critical attitude.
  • You have strong communication skills and are able to express yourself clearly in English and Dutch, both verbally and in writing.
  • Sound presentation skills and working with the required tools

Some examples of projects

  • In a project for Port of Antwerp, we investigated how the port could play a role as a recycling hub. We first mapped the potentially interesting waste streams and then went looking for synergies. On this basis we opted for the chemical recycling of plastics. Together with partners, we mapped the availability of material sources for chemical recycling, where sorted plastic waste is converted back into raw materials.
  • In the COLLECTORS project, we investigated 242 waste collection and sorting systems in different European regions. The overall performance of these systems was assessed. The key insight from this project was that the success of a particular system or policy should not be measured by the amount of waste it can collect, but by the amount of virgin material it can prevent. Therefore, the quality of the collected materials is crucial and the waste push must be complemented by a material/market pull.
  • In recent years, our research team has also conducted PhDs and post-doc projects on the application of existing tools and methods within the context of materials management. For example, the suitability of the United Nations Framework Classification of Resources for identifying interesting opportunities in terms of urban mining was investigated. Another project investigated whether Statistical Entropy Analysis can be applied to assess the effectiveness of circular scenarios.
  • In the project 'European Topic Centre on Waste and Materials in a Green Economy' for the European Environment Agency (EEA), VITO works together with several other European organisations to collect, analyse and present data and information on policy in the field of waste management and prevention, green economy, efficient use of materials and the transition to a circular economy in Europe. These results are used by policymakers to evaluate current policies and define future approaches. The results of this project can be found here.


  • A competitive salary
  • Various extra-legal benefits including allowances, insurance, bonus, modular holiday package.
  • Flexibility in working hours and workplace.
  • Innovation is our most important asset, so it goes without saying that we give our employees the opportunity to obtain further training and to keep abreast of their field of expertise.
  • The opportunity to be part of an organization with an international reputation, which is known for its advanced technological research and scientific advice.
  • The opportunity to actively contribute to sustainable developments at local, national and global level.