Follow-up report: Circular Economy in the skilled trades

Authors: Paul Szabó-Müller & Mario Heinemann

Circular Economy in the skilled crafts sector - info event by Prosperkolleg and Chamber of Crafts Münster

On 14.06.2022, craft enterprises received an introduction to the topic “Circular Economy”. The Proserkolleg research project and the Münster Chamber of Crafts invited participants to Bottrop.

Craft enterprises should urgently look into Circular Economy, also known as Circular Value Creation. This is because the scarcity of resources affects the skilled trades in particular and requires a rethink. Resource efficiency, circularity and sustainable supply chains are required. It also involves the avoidance and responsible disposal of materials that can no longer be returned to the cycle. The skilled trades as producers, service providers and users have a wide range of opportunities to exert influence. All this was the motivation and content of the event.

First, Anna Groeneveld and Paul Szabó-Müller from the Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences (HRW) introduced the topic and presented the Prosperkolleg project, which is investigating and stimulating the transformation to Circular Value Creation in the Emscher-Lippe region and in NRW. In the “Circular Digital Economy Lab” of the Prosperkolleg, Prof. Dr. Saulo Seabra and Mike Duddek from the HRW then gave the participants a clear and practical demonstration of possible applications of artificial intelligence, robotics and process engineering for the recycling of electronic waste.

Two keynote presentations delved into the situation in the skilled trades and showed the first steps for implementation in one’s own company. Thomas Melchert from the HWK Münster presented the feasibility study “Circular Economy/Circular Value Creation” on needs and opportunities for more circularity in SMEs in the German-Dutch border region. Paul Szabó-Müller from HRW presented the “Potential Check Circular Economy” of the Prosperkolleg. The potentials are identified in four steps, starting with getting to know each other and an introduction to the content  (1st initial meeting), through an actual-target analysis in relevant operational fields of action (2nd circularity matrix), to an in-depth half-day workshop (3rd circularity workshop) and the derivation of next steps (4th next steps).

Finally, the participants discussed the concrete starting points for circular value creation in the skilled trades and in their companies. This confirmed that the companies already have some positive approaches to sustainability and circularity, but that the topic should be addressed more systematically and comprehensively.

Read more about “Ciruclar Economy in the skilled trades” in the joint blog post by HWK and Prosperkolleg. For more info on how to get started, visit the Prosperkolleg introduction page. Here you will find info and a way to book an appointment for the Prosperkolleg Potential Check.