What will metal processing industries look like in the future? How can they become more circular and sustainable? What do small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this sector need in order to lead successful transformation processes? These and other sector-relevant aspects are at the core of our new project, “bergisch.kompetenz”, which launched in May 2024 in the cities of Wuppertal, Solingen, and Remscheid in Germany.

Referred to as the Bergische city triangle (Bergisches Städtedreieck), the region is famous for its long tradition in metal-based products such as knives, scissors and other tools. However, in order to overcome current challenges but also become future-proof, industry actors are faced with the need for a systemic transformation.

With the new project, the CSCP together with the project lead, Neue Effizienz and other project partners will support the circular transformation of this sector both on a conceptual level as well as through direct collaboration with SMEs.

The project will focus on implementing sustainable circular economy practices on several levels and covering a wide range of topics. From company culture, leadership, and human resources through to product design and manufacturing techniques, the project will feed in circular economy principles and solutions to shape and enable the transformation. Together with relevant local actors, “bergisch.kompetenz” will also develop customised concepts that reflect the specific needs of the involved companies.

The project consortium brings together expertise from many fields, including laboratory research, innovative training and capacity building approaches, circular economy, behavioural knowledge, manufacturing techniques and more. This way, holistic concepts can be developed and tested before being implemented and upscaled.

The CSCP will share its expertise on the regional circular economy landscape and sustainable transformation processes in companies.

“bergisch.kompetenz” is funded by the European Fund for Regional Development through the Ministry of Economy Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The project runs until 2027.

For further questions, please contact Pawel Zylka.

Photo by Brandon Cormier on Unsplash.

What are the missing pieces in the puzzle in order to make circularity the norm among consumers in Europe? What can successful circular economy citizen engagement initiatives teach us with regards to effective ways to advance the circular behaviours that really matter? At the #EUCircularTalk: How to advance the circular behaviours that really matter, taking place on 8 May 2024, from 10:30-12:00 (CET), the CSCP and the Rediscovery Centre bring together experts and stakeholders to discuss these issues and share insights on how to get people engaged in the circular economy. There are still a few places available – register now to be part of it!

Changes in consumption behaviours and lifestyles are increasingly recognised as one of the key levers for enabling the transition to a Circular Economy. Citizens play an important role in advancing circular solutions to close material loops. Recent data suggests that despite increased efforts to engage consumers, there is still much room for improvement. Although awareness of environmental and fairness issues has increased in global textile chains, for example, fast fashion companies are still market leaders in Europe.

Following up on our participation at the World Circular Economy Forum 2024 (WCEF) on behalf of the Leadership Group “Citizen Engagement & Circular Behaviours” of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), the CSCP and the Rediscovery Centre will co-host a discussion around the behavioural challenges that consumers face when it comes to endorsing more circular behaviours. At the #EUCircularTalk we will also look into how such challenges can be successfully tackled on the ground. Key questions that will be addressed include:

To share insights and learnings to these questions, we have invited a line-up of panelists with hands-on experience on what works best on the ground to make it easier for people to adopt circular behaviours:

Event: #EUCircularTalk: How to advance the circular behaviours that really matter
Date: 8 may 2024
Time: 10:30-12:00 (CET)
Place: Online
Language: English
Cost: Free

Click here to register for the talk and benefit from these insights for your own circular economy engagement initiative!

You can also listen to the podcast series on Circular Behaviours that the CSCP and the Rediscovery Centre have produced in preparation for this #EUCircularTalk. The podcasts are available at the ECESP podcast channel on Spotify.

Episode 1: Interview with Esra Tat, Executive Director, Zero Waste Europe and focuses on the topic of waste prevention.

Episode 2: Interview with Odile Le Bolloch, Stop Food Waste campaign, EPA Ireland and focuses on the topic of food consumption and waste prevention.

Episode 3: Interview with Veerle Labeeuw, Circular Economy Facilitator, Circular Flanders and focuses on the topic of public-private partnerships as the means to engage people with circularity.

The #EUCircularTalks are an exchange concept organised within the framework of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), to which the CSCP is a Coordination Group member.

For further questions, please contact Mariana Nicolau or Rosalyn Old.

The circular economy is a key lever to reduce the environmental and climate impact of current global consumption and production systems. To enable a smooth and inclusive transition, it is important to ensure that all European countries have the necessary expertise on the scope and potential of the circular economy. Our project Capacity Building on Circular Economy in the Western Balkans – CE/WB aims to strengthen the capacity of the Western Balkan countries to develop and implement circular economy concepts and practices.

The project engages with six Western Balkan countries, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, to address their needs in terms of circular economy expertise, insights, and practical examples.

In an initiative that aims to help reshape the policy and environmental landscape of the Western Balkans, a pioneering and transformative three-day capacity building programme focusing on circular economy principles will be organised by the CSCP in partnership with VITO in June 2024.

This endeavor will bring together stakeholders and experts from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. With a focus on enhancing their knowledge of circular economy practices, the programme aims to align participants with the EU’s dynamic policy framework. By harnessing the expertise of key experts at the European level and fostering cross-country exchange, it aims to ignite a spirit of ownership and commitment among the region’s leading experts and policy makers.

The project is implemented within the framework of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance of the EU supported by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The project runs until October 2024 and is implemented by the CSCP and the VITO.

For further questions, please contact Kartika Anggraeni.

Looking for hands-on inspiration on how you and your organisation can embrace the transformation to sustainable digitalisation and circular value creation? Join our Digital Centre WertNetzWerke field trip to the Circular Digital Economy Lab and the FabLab in Bottrop, Germany where the recycling of materials is taken to the next level.

The Circular Digital Economy Lab (CDEL) is a development and demonstration laboratory that focuses on technical and economic solutions for circular value creation. It explores how the value of materials can be preserved for longer through recycling. The aim of CDEL is to show companies what is already technologically possible and how recycling can be approached in the future, with special attention to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their specific needs. This includes optimising processes and working with business experts to develop material flows that were previously overlooked or considered unsuitable.

How does the CDEL work?

At the heart of the CDEL is a digitalised dismantling and recycling line that can be flexibly adapted to different products. Using the product examples of smartphones and cordless screwdrivers, it is demonstrated how, with the help of various technical systems and devices, the devices are automatically recognised as end-of-life products, optimally dismantled, precisely separated into residual materials, and fed into new production cycles. Based on the knowledge gained, processes and product designs can be optimised and their applicability tested using marketability and scalability simulations.

What happens in the FabLab?

A visit to the FabLab of the Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences is also planned as part of the field trip. The FabLab is a 600 square metre site for experimenting, creating prototypes for companies and start-ups, and investigating topics such as sustainable neighbourhood and urban development. The FabLab is a collaborative creative space equipped with cutting-edge technology ranging from a quantum laboratory to a machine workshop.

Both the FabLab and the CDEL are located on the premises of the Prosper III start-up centre on the former colliery site in Bottrop. The labs are part of the #digital.zirkulär.ruhr project, a collaboration of the Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences, Ruhr University Bochum, the economic development agencies of the cities of Bochum and Herne, and the IT association networker NRW e.V..

Sign up now for our free business field trip to experience the innovative use of digital technologies for the circular economy first hand!

Event: Business Field Trip to the Circular Digital Economy Lab and the FabLab
Date: 13 May 2024
Time: 12:00-15:00
Place: Bottrop, Germany
Language: German

If you are looking for ideas how your company can use digital technologies for circular value creation, register now and join the field trip!

The Digital Centre WertNetzWerke runs under the umbrella of Mittelstand Digital, which offers guidance to small and medium-sized enterprises as they embrace the digital transformation and is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

For further questions, please contact Janna Prager.

Europeans are increasingly paying attention to sustainability and its integration into their lifestyles. However, it happens all too often that people are not fully aware of or underestimate the actual impact of their individual action. In other cases, it is not clear what is actually possible within a given context or how to get started.

The PSLifestyle project has been running since 2021 with aim of increasing citizen participation in discussions about sustainability and positioning them as an important stakeholder for the co-creation of feasible, transparent and credible solutions. The project has developed and launched the Lifestyle Test, a carbon footprint calculator in the form of a free web app that supports people to increase their awareness of the impact that their daily actions have on the environment.

Through a quick and simple test, they can create an initial overview. As a second step, they are provided with inspiration on how to reduce their footprint through tailored tips and actions on lifestyle choices available in their given contect. Finally, the Lifestyle Test supports them in keeping track of their progress (implementation of the tips and reduction of the carbon footprint).

Beyond individual engagement, the results and data collected from the test will be utilised (anonymously) to provide more insights to decision makers (e.g., business, policy) on how to advance and mainstream sustainable lifestyles. The Lifestyle Test is currently available in 8 European countries: Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Turkey.

Given the potential of the Lifestyle Test, the project is considering to expand its presence in other countries beyond the current ones. The scope of the Lifestyle Test can also be narrowed to fit the needs of companies, municipalities or organisations, supporting specific groups and audiences (e.g., inhabitants of a city, customers of a company, students of a university and similar) to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. The project team is open to collaboration ideas on how to further expand and develop the Lifestyle Test.

A unique feature of the Lifestyle Test is that it has been co-created with European residents from the 8 project countries in a series of Living Labs workshops. Hence, the questions, actions, features, and functions oft he test are based on their feedback and reflect their local realities, wants, and wishes.

The collected learnings from the process of designing and implementing the Lifestyle test so far have been collected in a report. In addition to Lifestyle Test insights, the report brings together additional insights about the sentiments of European’s with regard to sustainable lifestyles, including enabling and inhibiting factors. Finally the report collects procedural learnings regarding the implementation of consumer engagement activities through citizen science living labs as a method. You can download the report here.

If you would like to learn more about the Lifestyle Test or have ideas for its further expansion, please reach out to Arlind Xhelili.

‘Environmentally-friendly’, ‘climate-neutral’, ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, – marketing strategies in the European Union (EU) are overloaded with terms like these. According to the European Commission, more than half of such claims are vague, misleading or based on inaccurate information. In addition, European consumers are confronted with 230 sustainability labels and 100 green energy labels with varying degrees of transparency. The planned EU Green Claims Directive aims to put an end to unsubstantiated marketing claims and empower consumers to make informed choices. But what does this mean in practice?

How will the Green Claims Directive change the way products and services are marketed in the EU and what impact will this have on marketing and sustainability strategies, business models, and operations in companies?

What kind of data do companies need to collect to substantiate their claims? Moreover, what processes and frameworks are needed in the first place in order to generate the required data from respective actors along the supply chain?

What is the role of Artificial Intelligence and how can companies employ it to create robust, data-driven, and substantiated claims?

Why is it important for companies to think beyond the business realm and build collaborations and partnerships with other relevant actors in society?

In a recent episode of the “Grüne Wiese” podcast, CSCP Executive Director Michael Kuhndt addresses these questions in a conversation with Andreas Winterer, Senior Advisor and Podcaster at SAIM – Consulting by UTOPIA and Meike Gebhard, Managing Director and communications expert at UTOPIA.

You can listen to the full episode of the podcast here. The podcast is in German.

“Grüne Wiese” is a monthly podcast series by UTOPIA, exploring topics related to sustainable entrepreneurship. You can find additional information on the podcast here.

If you have questions on the EU Green Claims Directive or would like to engage with us on this topic, please contact Michael Kuhndt.

Value networks are dynamic systems within and between organisations that aim to invent, develop, and successfully market innovations that create value for all parties involved. They hold great potential for companies seeking to achieve economies of scale, reach new markets, or increase their impact. But what does it take to build value networks that sustain over time and go beyond short-term interests of particular partners? Our next Digital Centre WertNetzWerke webinar on 18 April 2024 will shed light on this topic – join us!

Value networks are based on mutual trust. By working together, partners create a system that allows each actor to specialise in what they do best, enabling efficient joint processing of tasks and strengthening individual skills and competences. These networks include both vertical relationships along the value chain, such as supplier relationships, and horizontal partnerships, such as strategic alliances. Innovation networks have been gaining in importance for several decades, particularly in high-tech sectors such as information technology (IT), biotechnology and microtechnology, which require rapid access to new knowledge and new technologies.

Our Digital Centre WertNetzWerke webinar “Fundamentals of inter-company business models – What can be learned from best practices” on 18 April 2024 focuses on how to build value networks in ways that benefit network partners and consumers, with insights from topic experts and business representatives.

At the webinar you can learn and exchange on the following topics:

Reciprocity in value networks: A long-term perspective and the intention to build lasting relationships increase the stability of collaboration and promote the willingness to make resources available between partners.

Trust in value networks: Mutual trust between partners is a fundamental mechanism as it reduces the complexity of collaborations: there is less need to conduct risk assessments, monitor, or control specific behaviours or actions of individual partners. 

Best ways to create trust in value networks: Mutual trust is based on shared norms, values, and positive expectations of what can be achieved by working together in the future. Transparency, openness and a willingness to compromise are important prerequisites. Reliability, self-organisation, and delivering on promises also build trust.

The CSCP will focus on the topic of “Trust & Reciprocity”, the Fraunhofer Centre for International Management and Knowledge Economy (IMW) will focus on “Basics of Cooperative Business Models”, and GS1 will cover the topic of “Inter-company Business Process Management”.

Event: “Fundamentals of inter-company business models – What can be learned from best practices”
Date: 18 April 2024
Time: 13:00-14:00 CEST
Place: Online
Language: German

For further insights into value network business models and best practices on trust and reciprocity in value networks, register now to join the webinar!

The Digital Centre WertNetzWerke runs under the umbrella of Mittelstand Digital, which offers guidance to small and medium-sized enterprises as they embrace the digital transformation and is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).

For further questions, please contact Marianne Magnus-Melgar.

The current European food system is not in line with the sustainability and health goals set by the European Union. Despite significant efforts and initiatives, the shift towards a more sustainable food system is still not holistic and fast enough to achieve the required scale. What is needed to accelerate this transition, address environmental concerns and improve public health at the same time?

Livestock farming and the dairy industry continue to play a major role in the food market, which exacerbates the strain on resources and increases the negative environmental impact. At the production stage, food supply chains are long, with multiple players, different interests and often without complete transparency.

At the consumer level, increased awareness about health and sustainability is not always translated into concrete action. Food waste and loss at both the production and consumption level, coupled with an insufficient amount of resources being fed back into the cycle, make the challenge even greater. Could the emerging wave of alternative food products such as new proteins or meat alternatives be the key to healthier and more sustainable food systems?

Alternative proteins, which are plant-based and food-technology alternatives to animal protein, are often coined as next food. Their rise comes in response to challenges related to animal-based and conventionally produced proteins. They could help transform our food landscape by diversifying the sources of food intake towards healthier and more sustainable options.

However, the alternative proteins ecosystem is not without challenges of ist own, not least related to production difficulties, consumer acceptance barriers, or broader infrastructural issues. To address these challenges, holistic, interdisciplinary, and collaborative approaches are needed, bringing key actors together and enabling them to engage toward solutions that have a real impact.

For example, actors involved in the production of alternative proteins are faced with the challenge of supply chain volatility. With a large number of suppliers operating at the start-up level and with limited investment capacities, meeting demands while maintaining good quality and sustainable production efficiency can be a daunting task. Frameworks that allow for more transparency and better exchange flows in the supply chain can help reduce its volatility. In addition, harmonised regulatory and food standard requirements across different governance levels, such as the EU and/or national level, can help reduce complexity in favour of leaner processes for producers.

In food environments or points of sale, there is yet no common terminology to properly refer to alternative proteins in a manner that is representative of product attributes while avoiding dissonance with product lines from the same counterpart category (i.e., animal-based products). Similarly, alternative protein products across food environments are usually placed separately from their counterparts (i.e., shelves, menu pages),  enforcing a silos environment. Integrating consumer insights and perspectives in decision-making processes at points of sale can help make such products more tangible to consumers while empowering them to make informed decisions.

Moreover, consumers often lack information or knowledge about the benefits (environmental, nutritional, health) of alternative protein. Availability and choice, risks of potential allergens, the need for a balanced nutritional profile as well as clear guidance on safety requirements for new alternative proteins are all aspects that need to be addressed in order to overcome current consumer barriers.

To capitalise on and advance current developments in the next food sector, involved actors need to take a few key steps, including:

Participatory, multi-stakeholder engagement processes that involve consumers are necessary to co-create and identify pathways and mechanisms that aim to bridge the gap between broader narratives, promotional efforts, social mindsets, and next food as an instrument toward a healthier and more sustainable food system.

At the CSCP, together with our partners, we explore the potential of alternative proteins to address sustainability challenges by taking all relevant actors on board and engaging them in inclusive and solution-oriented ways. Currently, we are working on the topic of alternative proteins in three projects:

Alternative proteins hold great potential in re-shaping our food system by protecting the environment while improving public health. Join us on a journey of discovery to identify and close knowledge gaps, give way to multi-stakeholder co-creation, and boost innovation toward positive change.

Reach out to us to identify and start new collaborations that help make next food a key part of the solution to today’s pressing environmental and health challenges.

For more information, please reach out to Arlind Xhelili .

Image: AI generated with JourneyArtAI

In this interview, CSCP Senior Project Manager and co-do lab Team Member, Mariana Nicolau speaks about the power of “collective intelligence” and explains how the co-do lab Pioneer Network provides a space for co-creating transformative solutions. The CSCP launched the co-do lab as a Wuppertal-based do tank that runs as a social business and aims to support organisations to accelerate transformation towards greater sustainability.

What does it take to co-create and scale sustainable transformations?

There are different ways of doing that, but at the co-do lab we are becoming increasingly convinced about the power of one approach: collective intelligence. It is about organising and curating groups of leaders that have been successful in advancing transformation in reality, on the ground, in their own roles, organisations, and contexts. The purpose: to combine their know-how and experience about what works and what doesn’t in order to achieve transformation across sectors, including food, technology, infrastructure, biodiversity or Circular Economy. As lonely wolves, each of these leaders might go far, but collective intelligence can take us further down the journey into places that individual motivation alone may not. Besides, why have transformation leaders act in silos if we can create platforms for them to join forces and co-create transformation pilots and initiatives that can deliver the level of interdisciplinary change and innovation required in sustainability topics? This is why the co-do lab Pioneer Network is a platform where frontrunners across disciplines can draw on each-others depth of knowledge and tap into the power of collective intelligence to achieve the sustainable transformation. 

Tell us more about the co-do lab Pioneer Network – what is it and how does it work?

The Pioneers is a mastermind group in which we bring together transformation pioneers to empower them to scale up their impact towards sustainability. To achieve this purpose, the Pioneers join regular meetings with carefully curated and impactful content on how to advance transformation in different sectors and contexts, besides having the opportunity to advise and provide thought-leadership to co-do lab projects to advance the transformation towards sustainability on the ground.

What profile does one need to have to be a co-do lab pioneer?

Joining the Pioneers is possible by invitation only. We receive nominations of candidates which we review based on a set of criteria. The most important criteria is that the person needs to have a track record of transformation achievements and is ready to both pass on that know-how as well as apply it towards sustainable transformation goals. One can be a pioneer in the Circular Economy field by, say, having helped mainstream breakthrough circular solutions. When this person comes together with a pioneer in the field of digitalisation or biodiversity, synergies happen. This is how robust, innovative, and transformational solutions are co-created.

In transformation processes, people may feel insecure. How can the Pioneers support to address such feelings or reactions?

The pioneers have blazed trails before and shown what is possible. I often think that one of the greatest challenges of sustainability projects is the guesswork about what the most effective way to drive something forward is. With the Pioneers, project advice and peer-to-peer learning are based on actual results, on what has worked (or not) to achieve transformation. This definitely helps dissipate negative feelings in view of transformation needs.

And what about the exchanges among the pioneers – how will that be put into the service of scaling transformation?

Our goal is to enable pioneers to double their impact on sustainable transformation. We are developing what exactly that means together with the pioneers themselves, based on what they perceive as impact for themselves and their organisations in view of societal needs.

Even in the early stages, we put a lot of effort into understanding what the pioneers are accomplishing and curating that knowledge for peer-to-peer learning among the pioneers.

For further questions, please contact Mariana Nicolau.

© Marc Wessendarp

Over the long period of the industrial age, economic growth has been largely dependent on the extraction and processing of raw materials. Fast forward to today, we face a time when the need to decouple economic growth from resource use and in ways that do not exacerbate climate change has never been more urgent. The European Commission has set a milestone in global policy to combat climate change with its Circular Economy Action Plan. The CE-RISE project is a case in point how European objectives and policies can be implemented in practice and what targeted collaboration among stakeholders from different sectors can achieve.

The Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) was developed and adopted in March 2020 to accelerate transformational change while building on circular economy actions implemented since 2015.

The plan’s actions cover initiatives along the entire product life cycle, including the design of products, the promotion of circular economy processes, strengthening sustainable consumption, reducing waste and ensuring a well-functioning EU internal market for high quality secondary raw materials. By doing so, both consumers and public buyers will be empowered to participate in this transition that will benefit people, regions and cities.

One of the key product value chains within the CEAP is electronics and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as electrical and electronic equipment remains one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU (annual growth rates of 2%) and it is estimated that less than 40% of electronic waste is recycled in the EU.

Within the CEAP and as part of the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), the proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) was published in March 2022, building on the current  Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC, so far only covering energy-related products. Under the new ESPR, appliances are now to be designed not only with a strong energy efficiency imperative in mind, but also with a strong focus on durability, reparability, upgradability, maintenance, reuse and recycling.

Furthermore, to achieve the goals of the SPI, the EC is requesting the introduction of Digital Product Passports (DPP), which are to be based on norms and standards. The DPP is intended to provide a response to the necessary sustainable and digital transformation of the economy and society, allowing information to be shared across the entire value chain of products and track materials and other supply chain information such as a product’s sustainability.

How our CE-RISE project supports European key objectives?

Recent crises have exposed the fragility of our globalised world, especially with respect to global supply chains and energy dependency. In light of the lessons learned, the EC has decided to minimise the loss of Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs) and optimise their reuse within value chains, highlighting the role of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) in the technological transition towards green and sustainable technologies. Furthermore, to address these challenges, the European Commission is preparing the general requirements for the establishment of the DPP.

With its focus on ICT and electronics, the CE-RISE project strives to be an enabler for the EU sustainability goals, as the potential for circularity in this sector is very high. One of the key objectives of CE-RISE is to provide solutions for the tracking and tracing of CRMs and their retention in an EU circular economy so as to become less dependent on other countries and avoid raw material waste.

A consortium from 11 EU countries is working together to develop and implement the Circular Economy Resource Information System (CE-RISE) to share detailed data on electronic products that identify optimal solutions for the effective reuse, recovery, and recycling of materials. With the support of our industry partners, CE-RISE will also develop DPPs for the various case studies for ICT products, printers, photovoltaic (PV) panels, batteries and heating systems, integrating information such as the product environmental footprint and socio-economic and environmental impacts of RE processes into the information system.

Transparency along the supply chain is key, and with the support of our partner Circularise, which offers blockchain-based technology, end-to-end supply chain traceability solutions will facilitate the tracking of materials.

The CE-RISE project will develop a system that gives stakeholders a better understanding of the environmental impact of electronic products and guidance on how to preserve important raw materials by reusing, repairing and recycling these productsEquity and digitalisation will be promoted by providing access to all kind of stakeholders, including consumers and policymakers, through an “open to all” information platform (open access software application). Re-furbishers, repair shops, or re-manufacturers will be able to access information about the products stored in the DPP like spare part lists or recommendations for the proper separation and collection of products, thus increasing the number of products and materials recirculating in the market.

For a more comprehensive read on this topic, please go to the CE-RISE website. You can find on overview of the CE-Rise project here.

For further questions, please contact Marianne Magnus-Melgar.

Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash.