The Circulus research group examines ways of creating a green circular economy. GreenCycle supports the research by offering practical expertise.

How sustainable can plant-based raw materials be?

Plant-based raw materials

The junior research group Circulus at the University of Freiburg is working on solutions to bring about a successful transition to a sustainable circular economy. GreenCycle supports the research with expertise, in particular on economic feasibility in day-to-day business operations.

Enabling sustainable economics, reducing resource consumption, cutting greenhouse gas emissions: Circulus wants to find out whether, and how, this could be achieved by using plant-based raw materials. A total of five young researchers from the social, economic, engineering and technical sciences are investigating the question of how the sustainable resource management of the future can be achieved. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project, which was launched in 2016 and runs until 2021.

Bio-circular economy: multi-use plant-based raw materials

In their search for oil, gas and coal substitutes, Germany and many other countries are focusing increasingly on the use of renewable raw materials. Their aim is to pave the way towards a so-called bio-economy. This not only holds many opportunities, but economic, environmental and social challenges as well. For example, there is growing concern about competition for land use between the cultivation of energy crops and food.

The circular economy offers a possible solution to these challenges. The aim is to use plants in the bio-economy in such a way that the materials obtained from them can be used in production, reused several times over multiple recycling stages, and finally returned to the biological cycle.

Scientific basis for sustainable alternatives

The aim of Circulus research is to evaluate the environmental sustainability of economic alternatives. On this basis, it should be possible to set out scientifically sound and actionable transition pathways. For example, the research team produces a life cycle assessment of different waste management strategies and develops scenarios for recyclable products and processes. These results are fine-tuned with cooperation partners, including GreenCycle, which reviews the practicability of the research group’s findings.