Freiburg Talks on Environment and Society: Prof. Walter R. Stahel

The Chair of Societal Transition and Circular Economy organized the second session of the seminar series “Freiburg Talks on Environment and Society” at the Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography of the University of Freiburg. On this occasion, we were happy to host one of the fathers of the circular economy: Prof. Walter R. Stahel.
He is founder and director of the Product-Life Institute (Switzerland), the oldest established consultancy in Europe devoted to developing sustainable strategies and policies for a circular economy since 1983. Since 2013, he is a full member of the Club of Rome. His most well-known publications include ‘Jobs for Tomorrow, the Potential for substituting manpower for energy’ (1981) and ‘The Performance Economy’ (2010). His talk “Circular Economy – Back to the Future” provided new sources of motivation towards a circular economy. This and related issues were discussed with an audience of more than 50 students, researchers and professors of our School.

Circulus in China

During her first field trip, Anran Luo brought the Circulus project to scholars, practitioners and business exhibitions in China. In Shanghai and Beijing she explored the views and understandings of the Circular Economy. Surprisingly, the term Circular Economy was considered rather politically passé with other terms currently gaining increasing traction. Anran Luo attended the 2017 China International Circular Economy Exhibition in Beijing from November 20 th -22 nd , which included a broad selection of discussion forums. The discussion forums included themes such as Remanufacturing, Urban Mining, Investment Financing, Agricultural Recycling and Natural Resource Conservation, featuring speakers from the political, business and academic spheres.

Circulus Team supporting Urban Visions for a sustainable City of Freiburg

Circulus team members join the dialogue on new economic systems and a regional food in the national competition “Future Cities” (Wettbewerb Zukunftstadt) for a sustainable Freiburg.


The City of Freiburg participates in the national competition “Future Cities” (Wettbewerb Zukunftstadt) that aims to motivate municipalities to come up with local visions of a sustainable future. Having entered the second phase of this competition, the city of Freiburg’s “Future Dialogue II” (Zukunftsdialog II) held on 18th July 2017 brought together about 60 citizens, researchers and representatives from policy and business to co-create visions and concepts for implementing a transition to a sustainable City of Freiburg 2030. Building on a first stage of the Future Dialogue, local-state-of-the-art studies in the three focus areas sustainable energy, new economic systems, and a regional food system have informed the dynamic debate on further steps and research needs as well as possible pilot-projects to be set-up in the near future. The aim of this dialogue is to implement real-life laboratories in several districts of the city that serve as a sort of “playground” for experimenting with production, consumption, and management practices to put actions behind the visions of a sustainable city.


For the Circulus team, contributing to closely related, practice relevant and transformative projects in front of one’s doorstep is not to be missed. Dr. Sina Leipold joined the working group of new economic systems in which topics such as sustainable construction, shared responsibility, and strengthening the link between social entrepreneurship and citizen engagement emerged as a priority. In the working group regional food system, attended by Robert Gundlach, an animated debate included issues such as quantifying the regional food shed and the potential to eat more regional, conducting “consumption experiments” on eating habits in several districts, reducing food waste and increasing food sovereignty by strengthening the relationship between producers and consumers.


With the abundance of ideas and enthusiasm demonstrated by the dialogue’s participants, the Circulus team is keen on seeing the City of Freiburg launching into the next phase of the competition and looks forward to the real-life laboratories to be set-up all over town.

Initiated Cooperation for Case Study: Cardboard Packaging Solutions

As part of conceptualizing a circular economy’s supply chains and material flows, Circulus met with Klingele Papierwerke at their headquarters in Remshalden on the 20th of July. Klingele Papierwerke will contribute to the case study with insights and data on challenges and possibilities of a sustainable circular economy in the cardboard sector.

In line with developments towards a more bio-based economy, Klingele Papierwerke has launched a cardboard bag amongst other initiatives, aiming to meet sustainability challenges related to plastic bags in the retail industries. While the German cardboard industry’s products are generally made from 85% recycled materials, Klingele Paperwerke’s cardboard bags are 100% recycled.  The necessity of packaging for many parts of our economy and the cardboard industry’s existing experiences with material loops makes cardboard packaging a relevant case study for Circulus.

This case study aims to assess and compare the environmental impacts of cardboard packaging with other solutions, as well as to evaluate the potential to upscale the use of cardboard to a greater part of the packaging markets. A consequential life cycle analysis will help develop possible pathways and product-level solutions towards a more circular economy in the packaging sector.


Circulus at 1st World Circular Economy Forum

With a symbolic launch on World Environment Day, the first World Circular Economy Forum brought together more than 1500 participants from business, policy and civil society from 150 countries last week. All came to Helsinki to discuss the circular economy. The vivid exchange highlights the need to create an economy that enables us to live within planetary boundaries.

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1st national meeting of the research promotion program: “Bioeconomy as Societal Change”

Circulus and three other research groups met last Tuesday in Berlin to present their project, to network and to exchange ideas.

The discussions covered challenges of interdisciplinary research, methods and theories, within the area of bioeconomy and societal transformation research.

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1st Circulus Workshop took place on Wednesday 18 January 2017!

The Objectives of the Selection and Specification workshop were to develop a common understanding of circular economy between the participants from Industry associations and Science. We discussed criteria for and selection of appropriate case studies for the investigation of innovations for the circular economy. It also worked as a first matching of mutual expectations and reconciling the realization in the Circulus project.


Our Participants (from left): Marcus Kirschner (HDH - Hauptverband der deutschen Holzindustrie), Prof. Stefan Bringezu (University of Kassel), Prof. Claudia Bieling (University of Hohenheim), Dr. Tobias Schwarzmüller (Bayern Innovativ), Dr. Sina Leipold (University of Freiburg), Dominik Melzig (FÖV - Forum Ökologisch Verpacken), Anatoly Davydov (FTP – Forest - Based Sector Technology  Platform), Alfons Bieling (FTP), Nora Sophie Griefahn (Cradle to Cradle).


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Circulus is hiring!

Sorry, the closing date for application has expired!

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New Research Group „Circulus“ at University of Freiburg securing 2 Mio EUR of funding

Press Release of the University of Freiburg.

Pressemitteilung Uni Freiburg_20160714.p
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