Former Research Unit to Become New Wuppertal Institute Division
Dr. Henning Wilts appointed Director of the Circular Economy Division
With a new organisational structure and the addition of Circular Economy as its fourth division, the Wuppertal Institute is taking account of the dynamic growth and strategic importance of the topic of waste and resources. The newly established division will be headed by circular economy expert Dr. Henning Wilts.
Wuppertal, 7 September 2018: Every year, Germany produces over 350 million tonnes of rubbish – a gigantic waste of raw materials and natural resources. Germany and the European Union are committed to realising a comprehensive transition towards a circular economy, where waste will be prevented as far as possible, products used for as long as possible and unavoidable waste seen as a resource.
Policy makers and companies are increasingly taking up this challenge and drawing on the expertise of the Wuppertal Institute as they do so. Research topics tackled by the Circular Economy Division range from the organisation of necessary infrastructure to the development of suitable policy measures and governance approaches through to effective processes for innovation in the recycling sector and the interplay between digitalisation and waste management.
“By setting up this Division, we want to highlight the rapidly growing importance of the circular economy in achieving a transformation in resource-intensive industries,” says Professor Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute, adding: “We are delighted to have secured as Director of the Division Dr. Henning Wilts, who has already done excellent work in establishing and developing the research unit of the same name at the Wuppertal Institute.”
Research priorities in the Circular Economy Division
Where is there potential to prevent resource consumption, and how can resources be recovered for reuse? Which substances, products or waste materials should the recycling industry prioritise? What strategies and policy approaches are necessary and appropriate in order to achieve a comprehensive transformation from a regional to a global level? What are the key obstacles, and what measures can be taken to overcome them? The research team in the Wuppertal Institute’s Circular Economy Division is providing answers to these questions. The research scientists take a holistic approach to their assessments and view the circular economy primarily from the perspective of resource efficiency. Recycling is not an end in itself, nor on its own a satisfactory objective, to the extent that it does not lead to an actual reduction of the burden on the environment. Dr. Henning Wilts explains: “The greatest easing of environmental pressure will be brought about when we achieve closed-loop material cycles. The circular economy is an innovation agenda, which calls for completely new forms of cooperation between the waste management sector and industry, policy makers and consumers. At the Wuppertal Institute we want to support this transitional process, which Germany cannot allow to slip through its grasp.” A circular economy can also help to make a success of other key transitional challenges such as climate protection. The new division will therefore cooperate closely with the divisions working in the fields of energy and climate protection as well as strengthening the Wuppertal Institute’s integrative, interdisciplinary research approach.
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