Headimage abstract

Discussion paper from NRW on the circular economy

In the recently published paper, the state initiative IN4climate provides an overview of the current status and proposes concrete measures.


The discussion paper, prepared by 21 partners from companies and associations of energy-intensive industries as well as research institutions, aims to present a vision of the circular economy in energy-intensive industries, on the basis of which concrete measures as well as regulatory and political recommendations for action to further close material cycles are proposed. According to co-author Dr. Henning Wilts, Head of the Circular Economy Department at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment & Energy, the Circular Economy as a counter-model to the linear economy has the potential to be lower in emissions, more climate-friendly and resource-friendly, as well as to reduce dependence on raw materials from abroad and to counteract rising raw material prices. The prerequisite, he says, is that their utilisation potential is exploited much more effectively in many sectors in order to close the material cycle. According to the authors of the discussion paper, this requires industrial symbioses along the entire value chain. According to co-author and project manager at IN4climate.NRW Dr. Iris Rieth, the basic materials industry faces the challenge of adapting to new production processes, since the material flows between the sectors are changing in the course of the industrial transformation towards climate neutrality. The discussion paper is said to provide an overview of the current material flows between the chemical and petrochemical, steel, aluminium, energy, paper, glass, cement and lime sectors, as well as showing potential for closing material cycles that result from the further development of material separation and recycling and the expansion of the use of secondary and residual materials. According to the paper, the greatest obstacles lie on the political and regulatory side. The circular economy was not yet sufficiently politically anchored as a means of securing raw materials and protecting the climate. To establish it, the authors recommend a structuring in politics and administration that combines waste and environmental management, economic concepts and securing raw materials into a holistic solution. They also call for more emphasis on support programmes for energy-intensive industry and for creating framework conditions for a stable market.


Further information: to download the discussion paper (in German language)



  • (11/11/2021)
  • Photo: ©NRW Energy4Climate

Go back