The scientists are investigating how transformation processes towards a circular economy with low resource consumption can be successfully implemented.
Numerous analyses and studies point to the potential of the circular economy – both in terms of resource and climate protection and with a view to possible cost savings and increased competitiveness.
However, despite this apparent win-win situation, production and consumption patterns are still largely linear, and closed-loop product design and implementation has so far rarely progressed beyond niche applications.
Therefore, the researchers of the Circular Economy Division pursue a transformative research approach, which deals systematically and from a holistic perspective with the identification and analysis of necessary innovation processes in order to enable the essential system change.
The focus is on the necessary building blocks of the Circular Economy: from indicators and measuring methods to concrete instruments and strategies up to technologies in the context of digitalisation. For this purpose, the scientists of the Wuppertal Institute develop a consistent picture of the overall impact of such changes and thus generate future knowledge for the circular economy.
Based on this research-strategic approach the following guidelines result in the orientation and methodology in their specific projects:
Both Research Units of the Division with their different focuses, are aiming for the common goal of a resource-light and climate-neutral circular economy.
The Research Unit Material Loops investigates two closely interlinked research questions: What is the target picture of a circular economy, and what quantities of raw materials can actually be used in closed-loop systems with which environmental effects? This raises the question of suitable policy mixes, instruments and strategies to realise a transformation path towards a circular economy.
The Research Unit Digital Transformation investigates the perspectives of digitalisation and how it can be used for a sustainable transformation and especially for the transition to a closed loop economy (e.g. as a lever for recycling plastics) and at the same time be made sustainable. Accordingly, the projects shed light on the partly still unclear and contradictory perspectives of sustainable digitalisation.