Circulus — Opportunities and challenges of transition to a sustainable circular bioeconomy

Institution: University of Freiburg, Germany
Project Coordinator: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sina Leipold

In the face of dwindling global resources, the idea of a circular economy has gained global attention. Policy makers, industry and scientists suggest organizing economic activity in closed loops to increase the value derived from existing products and materials. Inspired by natural cycles and ideas of industrial ecology, the circular economy promises greater resource productivity as well as waste and emissions reduction through a restorative and regenerative design. The specific socio-economic consequences of implementing this concept on a national or even international scale, however, remain largely unknown.

On this basis, the newly established research group Circulus: Opportunities and Challenges of Transformation towards a Sustainable Circular Economy, aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the emergence and potential pathways of a circular economy in Europe and beyond. It takes on a constructivist systems perspective that connects political visions of a circular economy to current transformations in economic sectors and specific value chains across different countries. We analyse societal discourses and governance pathways as well as a number of industrial cases from bio-based sectors, collaborating with relevant industry partners.

The aim of the project is to provide a sound scientific understanding of the nature of current transformations towards a circular economy across different industry sectors. Based on this understanding, the project will outline potential transformation pathways and specify their socio-economic consequences.