Terratec – 2017 and the Circular Economy: The Journey of many Colours

By Kabiito Bendicto

Life is a journey, right? But you cannot make it alone! On the 6th, March 2017 was yet another day for a journey to Leipzig and indeed, ‘I was’ because ‘we were’. Team CIPSEM -2017 hit the road to Leipzig, ably led by Dr. Andre Lindner with Mr. Bernd Kaute behind the steering wheel to the exhibition grounds (Leipziger Messe) for Terratec-2017. There, in the huge glass-domed exhibition hall was innovators and pioneers displaying and educating the public about their efforts towards making ‘closed-loop economy’ a reality. And thank God, we were welcome!
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Our journey to Terratec 2017 on 6th March, 2017 was directly related to the classes and excursions we had had with Dr. Dietmar Lohmann in January and February, 2017, in which we had interesting discussions about the anthropological footprint on nature and the need to do something about it–may be  the ‘cradle to cradle approach’!!?? By extension though, this journey can be situated in the larger context of the emerging conceptual discourse of the ‘circular economy’, which ought to provide a foundation for fast-pacing state-of-the art environmental management approaches in Germany. This is currently at the heart of the Dresden University of Technology and many other Germany academic and professional institutions such as Interessengemeinschaft KURIS. This development is being championed by the Institute of Environmental Management and Circular Economy under the Material Fluxes and Circular Economy Initiative, and other governmental, individual and corporate establishments.

By both necessity and design we had Dr. Lohmann Dietmar for our classes about waste management. A passionate educationalist deeply enthusiastic about ‘wealth management’ (sorry, ‘waste management’); for he believes, after all, that ‘waste is wealth’.  He stands squarely opposed to the old ‘cradle to grave’ economic system, thus an ardent supporter of the ‘cradle to cradle’ economic vision, widely popularized in the publications of Micheal Braungart and William McDonough since 2002. This need for change is enhanced by the approaching resource scarcity and the human ingenuity and willingness to get on top of the faults of the old economy system that fast turns resources into waste. May be Erol Ozan was right in his assertion that “some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” Now that we got lost, we hope here we arrive at the ‘right’ path; ‘the closed-loop economy’.

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The exhibition brought together 129 exhibitors between 5-7 March, 2017, who  included; Green Ventures, Energy World, the Saxony Federal Ministry of Environment, BAUER Resources GmbH , MTM Plastics –the Upcyclers, Multipet- Multiport Kunststoffe, Reluma International GmbH, Purus Plastics, Baufeld, Gutezeichen Kompost, Interessengemeinschaft KURIS, Veolia, Dresden University of Technology, Hochschule Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, International Solid waste Association, and the list goes on… The 129 exhibitors were displaying technologies and techniques applicable to solid waste management, biomass decomposition and biogas generation, waste water treatment, wood, plastic, electronic and oil recycling, among others. Resource efficiency and renewable energy-related innovations were at display too, alongside water treatment and purification technologies all under one roof. The audience was both local and international, with provisions (in the upper chamber of the facility) for international networking and information sourcing. With the guidance of Dr. Lohmann, we visited quite a member of stales for brief inputs; including one presided over by a CIPSEM alumnus Dr. Uwe Schlenker of BAUER Resources GmbH.

Interestingly, this exhibition was regarded not just as small,but as ‘very small’ by ‘Germany measures’; especially in Leipzig, historically known as a city for trade fairs. By 1610, Leipzig was being referred to as “the famous trade fair city” by Friedrich Taumann.  Christian August Clodius in 1779 wrote about it as “the city where so many capable strangers arrived with a walking staff in their hand, and through talent, hard work and God’s blessings, acquired a ton of gold”. For big spenders, there awaits the mighty IFAT in Munich in May 2018.Iit is expected to be a mega ‘closed-loop economy’ exhibition.  Our reporter expects it to be really big, given his 2016 experience. The same kind attracted 3096 exhibitors in 2016, exhibiting in fields of water supply, waste water management and waste management, with a total of 137,000 visitors (only!). Bye for now, see you in Munich.

Visit at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Hainich National Park

For the last excursion of the EM38 course, the group headed once more to Leipzig. This time a visit at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) was scheduled. The iDiv research centre is a joint institution between the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Leipzig University. The research center was established in 2012 and conducts top-level research in biodiversity sciences with special focus on environmental change, sustainable development and bioresource management.

On the second day the group headed to Thuringia to visit the Hainich National Park. The park is part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany’ and includes the largest unexploited area of broadleaf forest (50 km²) in Germany.

(Photos: A. Lindner, T. Karp)

Excursion to the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Today’s program was an excursion to Leipzig to visit the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and one of their experimental field sites, the Global Change Environmental Facility (GCEF) in Bad Lauchstädt, a small village west of Leipzig (very small in fact, but Goethe was there).

Having arrived at the UFZ, the group got an introduction about the Helmholtz Association and its research centers in Germany. Apart from that the research structure and research fields of the UFZ were also topics in the morning.

In the afternoon we set out for Bad Lauchstädt and visited a very interesting large field experiment where the consequences of climate change for ecosystem processes under different land use options are investigated. The UFZ made a great video about the GCEF, check it out by clicking here!

(Photos: A. Lindner)