GERRI Research Network Presents Position Paper on Circular Economy



Elisabeth Clausen

Head of Institute


+49 241 80 95680


  Copyright: © GERRI/BGR

Recommendations for taking action toward a resource-efficient, climate-neutral, and circular raw materials economy

On the occasion of the kick-off event of the Dialogue Platform on Recycling Raw Materials, the German Resource Research Institute – GERRI – has published a new position paper entitled "Responsible Raw Materials Supply". In this paper, the institute – which includes RWTH Aachen University and eight other research institutions – identifies the need for research and innovation for a resource-efficient, climate-neutral, and circular raw materials economy.

In view of the growing world population and the need to maintain or improve living standards, the demand for resources will continue to rise if current economic processes follow in the same vein, according to the paper. In order to significantly reduce this enormous consumption of resources and the resulting impact on the environment and climate as a whole, the supply of secondary raw materials must be considerably increased and the extraction of raw materials in general must be made more resource-efficient and climate-neutral.

GERRI demonstrates starting points for innovation leaps all along the raw material cycle. The aim is to significantly increase overall resource efficiency with the long-term goal of largely closing material cycles. Together with conditions designed in a targeted manner, longer use life of raw materials in products and product cycles and the most complete possible recovery of the raw materials contained in the products at the end of their life, responsible provision of raw materials can be guaranteed in the long term through the technical approaches and innovations described, explain the research institutions involved in GERRI. In this way, the raw materials sector could make a significant contribution to the implementation of the European Green Deal and the German climate protection targets.

"An important innovation lever lies in digitalization and artificial intelligence, AI, both in connection with technologies and for modeling and controlling the totality of material flows," says Dr. Volker Steinbach, GERRI spokesperson and BGR vice president. "Interdisciplinary and systemic research endeavors also need to be intensified, as well as cooperation between research and industry at the European level," Steinbach said.

Mineral raw materials such as metals, minerals, and construction raw materials are a diverse component of everyday life and the foundation of the manufacturing industry. They are present just about everywhere, such as in transportation and construction, traffic and energy infrastructure, electronics, and everyday products. They are produced and used in considerable quantities. In 2020, their production volume amounted to 54 billion tons worldwide.