Following the General Assembly on 19 October 2021, which is held every two years, the Circular Economy Coalition for Europe invited interested representatives of the scientific community, colleagues in research and development as well as representatives of ministries and policy to the symposium “Science and Research for Circular Economy” to provide information about current research activities.

CEC4Europe Chairman, Prof. Christoph Scharff, hosted the symposium together with Vice-Chairman Prof. Martin Faulstich and Prof. Helmut Rechberger at the Hotel Steigenberger Herrenhof in the inner city of Vienna. Due to COVID restrictions the event was held in a hybrid format of face-to-face as well as online attendance.

This year we had the honour to welcome Peter Kurth, president of FEAD and BDE, as our keynote speaker at the symposium. Again, our very special thanks to Peter Kurth, who addressed the challenges and possibilities of recycling policies in the wake of the German parliamentary elections. As circular economy reaches far beyond waste management, one of the main challenges in policy making will be the question of the respective competences and responsibilities of the authorities. Besides incorporating aspects of sustainability into the procurement decision process by the public sector, he emphasized a legal framework for the increased uptake of secondary raw materials, especially in those fields where we face problems in closing the loop.

Afterwards, Helmut Rechberger of TU Vienna opened the lecture series “Science and Research for Circular Economy” with Jakob Lederer from TU Vienna and ICEBE Imagineering Nature at the Institute for Process Engineering and Environmental Engineering and Technical Biosciences. Jakob Lederer informed participants about the recent opening of the new Christian Doppler Laboratory at TU Vienna, which will be under his guidance and will focus on the recycling-based circular economy. In his presentation he guided us through the three stages of the recycling process of a product’s life cycle, starting with separate collection (stage A), followed by automated sorting technology (stage B) and bed- and bottom ash of incineration (stage C).

PhD Candidate at TU Vienna, Emanuel Boschmeier, explained the interesting process of System Circularity and Innovative Recycling of Textiles (SCIRT).  A major goal of the project is to move towards a more circular system in the fashion industry, which is, amongst others, challenged by the small quantities of recycled fibres, complex multi-material mixtures and the high costs of recycled material.

Marion Huber-Humer, professor at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, introduced the project idea called InnoID, which is concerned with future technology in relation to the identification of material/waste as a prerequisite for a circular economy.

Collaboration, an essential enabler of Circular Economy, was analysed from an empirical perspective by PhD researcher Lukas Stumpf from the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Sustainable Product Management at the Karl Franzens University of Graz.

The discussion afterwards was moderated by Helmut Rechberger, followed by a lively discussion led by Prof. Martin Faulstich, head of INZIN Institute. Amongst others, waste prevention, reduction of CO2 emissions, climate protection, recycling and the textile industry were addressed and discussed. In this context, new economic thinking and new economic models are necessary to achieve an efficient circular economy.

For CEC4Europe, circular economy is an essential pan-European concern and the coalition continues to strive towards a fact-based environmental policy. Effective strategies for a circular economy can only be based on a transparent knowledge and data base. The goal of the CEC4Europe platform is to provide fact-based knowledge and information for decision-makers in the waste management industry and for a wide public interested in the science of Circular Economy. The centerpiece of CEC4Europe is the Factbook, which is an ongoing and growing project easily accessible online for everyone interested under the following link: https://www.cec4europe.eu/publications/.

Please find the presentations here: