2021.09.07. - RWTH Pools Expertise on Circular Economy


RWTH recently founded the Center for Circular Economy – CCE for short – thereby pooling the University's expertise on the hot topic.

The CCE elevates RWTH's distinctive technical and ecological expertise in recycling materials such as metals, minerals, textiles, plastics, water, and carbon to a new level, and gives the university its own specialist platform. Institutes for social affairs, business, science, and digitalization are also integrated here. “RWTH can further expand its already strong network to develop innovative solutions for sustainable business models,” explains the Center's spokesperson, Professor Bernd Friedrich, head of the Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling Institute IME.

The circular economy covers a broad scope of almost all social and scientific areas, from the extraction of raw materials to consumer goods at the end of their use. It aims to maximize the value of goods and applications by rethinking, reducing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, recovering, and partially recycling them after their primary or even secondary use. “It is more important than ever to design products, goods, and materials that maximize circulation from the outset. Only this holistic view of various factors can help us close the loop by manufacturing more circular products and generating additional alternative uses for them during their life-cycle,” emphasizes Friedrich. However, this can only be achieved when citizens, politics, industry, and researchers all work together.

“In various projects, RWTH has been dealing with the topic of circular economy directly or indirectly for decades. In view of the existing global challenge, it is imperative that we synergistically and systematically apply the expertise from all across the university by uniting it under one roof,” says RWTH Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger about the strategic step of founding the Center, in which all nine faculties of the University are involved. Initial large-scale projects aim to minimize waste, maximize the value of recycled materials, help shape policy, and ensure acceptance by society. The goal is to work on a regional, national, and international level while also creating an academic curriculum around the circular economy.