Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy
Public lecture series in the summer semester 2024

Meet the Circular Economy - Nachhaltige Innovation in der Praxis

Headed by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sandra Venghaus (Junior Professor for Decision Analysis and Socio-Economic Evaluation, RWTH Aachen University) in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr (IBG-2, Forschungszentrum Jülich)

Supported by: Bioeconomy Science Center (BioSC) | Koordinierungsstelle BioökonomieREVIER Rheinland | RWTH Center for Circular Economy (CCE)

Considering the planet's ecological boundaries, the use of natural resources is still too high, especially in the industrialized countries. One of the global sustainability goals is therefore to create a shift towards sustainable production and consumption patterns. The circular economy offers a great opportunity to achieve this goal. Its innovative approaches are already being implemented in companies.

The public lecture series will provide first-hand information on the opportunities and challenges of developing and implementing circular or biobased processes. In addition to students and university members from all faculties, all interested private citizens are cordially invited to discuss innovative sustainability concepts of the circular economy in corporate and product development together with companies and businesses. The event language is German.

This year's kick-off event on April 15 focused on the circular economy in the chemical industry. Dr. Wulf Klöckner presented Covestro's sustainability strategy with the core elements of renewable energy, recycling and alternative raw materials and identified collaboration with academic research as a key to success. Dr. Lisa Weigand from the Mitsubishi Chemical Group began with a more general look at the role of the chemical industry in the circular economy before presenting her company's approaches and priorities. An important topic in both presentations was the difficulty of recycling composite materials and the associated need to design products from the outset in such a way that recycling of the individual components is planned for and made possible.

The second meeting on April 29 focused on the circular economy as a new business model. Ms. Lauk and Mr. Köhne presented the sustainability strategies of the companies Henkel and Schüco. As packaging made from recycled material often has less appealing shapes and colors and is therefore less attractive to consumers, Henkel has developed the so-called sleeve, a thin film that can be attractively printed and wrapped around packaging to be recycled. In the past, sorting plants were unable to separate the sleeve, but this is now possible thanks to changes in the composition and Henkel's cooperation with sorting plant operators. Mr. Köhne explained how Schüco aims to reduce emissions to net zero by 2040 through more efficient design, recycling and the use of more sustainable materials and services. Of particular interest was the idea of a QR code on every new window frame, which refers to all the important data for service and recycling in the Internet of Frames (IoF).

In the third session on May 13, Dr. Salvatore Lachina from BIOWEG and Marcel Kunz and Dr. Jannik Fleiter from Triple Solar presented the two start-up companies. BIOWEG uses microbially produced cellulose to produce microplastic alternatives, primarily for the cosmetics industry, as well as seed coatings for agricultural cultivation. The starting material here is waste streams from the food industry. To ensure sustainability, local substrate sources, scaling processes and the CO2 footprint are taken into account. Triple Solar produces PVT, a completely new combination of photovoltaics and heat exchangers in the same module, which are manufactured entirely in Europe. All three made it clear how relevant political decisions are for the success or failure of young and small companies in the sustainable circular economy. Bans, subsidies and laws have major positive and negative effects on technical developments, financing and implementation.


Lecture overview

Summer semester 2024 | Mondays | 16:00 - 19:00
Lecture hall TEMP 1 | Temporary lecture hall building at Republikplatz 6 (near C.A.R.L.), 52072 Aachen

The event will be held in German.
Admission is free, registration is not required.
The lectures are followed by an opportunity for informal discussion.

April 15
Kreislaufwirtschaft in der Chemieindustrie (Circular economy in the chemical industry)
Wolf Klöckner, Covestro
Lisa Weigand, Mitsubishi Chemical Group

April 29
Kreislaufwirtschaft als neues Geschäftsmodell (Circular economy as a new business model)
Lilith Lauk, Henkel
Alicia Conen, Schüco

May 13
Unternehmensgründungen in der Kreislaufwirtschaft (Start-ups in the circular economy)
Salvatore Lachina, Bioweg
Marcel Kunz / Jannik Fleiter, Triple Solar

May 27
Nachhaltigkeit im Bauwesen (Sustainability in the construction sector)
N.N., Gablok
N.N., Moringa

June 03
Soziale Innovationen in der Kreislaufwirtschaft (Social innovations in the circular economy)
Lina Helgers, Circular Food Chains, Stadt Aachen
N.N., RecyCoal

June 17
Nachhaltigkeit in der Mobilität (Sustainability in mobility)
Lennart Nübel, Remondis
Klaus Ruhland, Mercedes

July 01
Politik und Kapital für die Kreislaufwirtschaft (Policy and capital for the circular economy)
N.N., Euregio Maas-Rhein / Region Aachen


Contact: Prof. Dr. Sandra Venghaus | +49 24180 90963 | venghaus[at]

More information on the teaching module:


Photos: Forschungszentrum Jülich