Kreislaufwirtschaft Digitization Circular economy Mobility Production

Circular economy

Against the background of resource scarcity and an increasing resource consumption, the closed-loop circulation of products, materials, and substances is very important for the efficient use of renewable and non-renewable resources. To this end, it is necessary to develop and deploy innovative solutions for the reuse of products or components and for the recovery and recycling of material as a secondary feedstock. Moreover, combining these solutions according to the idea of cascade utilization is of great importance. From this, multiple economic challenges arise, which are tackled within the research field “circular economy”.

Key aspects

  • Material Flow Analysis: Information on the demand, availability, and geographical distribution of raw materials are of great interest both for companies and entire economies. Against this background, we model, simulate, and analyze resource and material flows and cycles with different methods, such as activity analysis or system dynamics. This enables the mapping of global raw material cycles as well as the consideration of intra- and inter-company processes.
  • Closed-Loop Supply Chain Management: Closing the cycles of products, substances, and materials along the supply chain allows for gaining competitive advantages. However, it is a very complex planning task. In line with closed-loop supply chain management, we deal with the design and coordination of material, value, and information flows among the supply chain partners, for all activities and throughout the product lifecycle. A special focus lies on the evaluation and utilization of the potential of digitization.
  • Spare Parts Management: The re-use of products and their components as spare parts contributes to the extension of the product life. We develop tools to support manufacturers’ decisions concerning the strategic planning of the spare parts supply in the aftermarket phase. Thereby, we especially focus on the reuse of product components.
  • Product Recovery Management: The recovery and recycling of raw materials from products, components and landfills are of great importance in the context of sustainable management. From a business perspective, we deal with the design of circular economy concepts as well as recycling planning and control.
  • Planning of Supply Chains: For innovative products, planning, and deploying expedient recycling concepts already at the beginning of their life cycle becomes more and more important. This does not only hold true for relevant recycling technologies and the corresponding machines and facilities. Rather, holistic concepts for further use, re-use, and recycling are required. Using facility location, technology, and capacity planning models, we enable the transfer of these concepts to an industrial scale.
  • Sustainability Assessment: An increasing number of products are globally distributed produced, used and recycled. For this reason, aspects of social and geographic justice have to be included in the sustainability assessment of such products with global value chains. Against this background, we develop appropriate approaches for the evaluation of products and technologies with global value chains by using methods of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment and multi-criteria decision making.

Selected projects

Selected publication

Contact persons

Dr. Kerstin Schmidt

  last changed 16.07.2019
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