Can you tell us something about yourself?
My name is Tim Buchhorn. I work as an energy and resource efficiency specialist at the Institute of Applied Material Flow Management (IfaS). IfaS is a higher research institute at Trier University of Applied Sciences located at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld (ECB) in Germany. In our view, the intelligent, resource-efficient utilisation of material and energy flows is the backbone of a sustainable society. For IfaS the optimisation of material and energy flows is more a question of management than a technical challenge. The analysis of the current situation, the creation of networks, the innovative combination of new and proven technologies as well as the development of innovative financial mechanisms are the focus of IfaS’s work. As part of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies division, my fields of work are to conduct energy audits and offer consultancy services on energy and resource efficiency for private entities, governmental agencies, and local communities in Germany and abroad. My colleagues Daniel Oßwald and Michael Schmidt and I are involved in the TRANSFORM-CE project.
How are you involved with the TRANSFORM-CE project?
Our team focuses on the Material Flow Analysis and Business Uptake work packages. For the Material Flow Analysis work package, I assess waste flows that are rich in single-use plastics in the four partner regions. I look at volumes and recycling, and create scenarios to predict the future plastic waste occurrence. We will then develop a methodology to compare TRANSFORM-CE’s role in increasing resource efficiency through its associated demonstration plants to the conventional treatment options of plastic waste in NWE.
What challenges and/or opportunities do you see?
Our findings show that there is enormous potential for increasing the usage of recycled plastics. Every partner country has different methods for the classification, collection, treatment and recycling of plastic waste streams. Many regions, municipalities and organisations have set up successful programmes to increase the capture and recycling rates of plastic waste. By learning from each other and adopting examples of best practice from all over NWE, including TRANSFORM-CE, we can drastically improve resource efficiency and take a big step towards a circular economy.
What is your call to action to industry?
My first call to action to industry is to increase the recyclability of plastic products like packaging or other single-use products by making recyclability a central design element and considering the entire life cycle of the products. Measures like using mono-materials, minimising the use of additives, or refraining from using carbon black allow high quality recycling. My second call to action is to use as much recycled plastic as possible. Our research in TRANSFORM-CE shows that plastic waste will be an important and reliable resource in the future. Using that resource will strongly reduce our dependency on raw materials. Of course, reducing the amount of waste for disposal also has many environmental benefits.
Further information on IfaS and their activities is available on https://www.stoffstrom.org/?lang=en