Circular Economy – Allgäu companies are on their way to the future.

Allgaeu GmbH

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Circular Economy – Allgäu companies are on their way to the future.

Beyond the neglected economy: Allgäu GmbH and Allgäu Digital addressed a very important topic at this year’s Freiraum conference: the circular economy. This means producing sustainable economic goods, allowing resources to circulate in a cycle, and ultimately changing consumer behavior that must separate economic growth from resource consumption. Conscious change in product design and manufacturing leads to successful innovations and business models. But as it turned out during the discussion, the change in consciousness has not yet reached society sufficiently.

However, companies show that only a circular economic cycle is sustainable in the long term. New products must be manufactured using much less raw materials, pollutants and energy, and they must be salvageable. Otherwise, the risk to the environment and conflicts over distribution will increase. “The circular economy is already practiced in Allgäu. FreiraumTagung identifies drivers and networks: companies have solutions that are also profitable for municipalities and regions. Summaries Klaus Fischer, General Manager of Allgäu GmbH.

Circular Economy from Allgäu: New Ideas and Responsibility for the Future

Andreas Breuer, Managing Director of ZAK Abfallwirtschaft GmbH, Kempten, impressively explains how change is happening in the waste management sector. The waste-to-energy plant was built 50 years ago to end illegal dumping and properly dispose of waste. Recycling centers were added, and today the company is able to add 30 parts to the economic cycle as recyclable materials. In addition, through its newly created ReUse division, ZAK has created platforms for reuse: repair cafés, convenience stores and a digital platform where items can be exchanged, sold, loaned or given away. With Project Marlin (Measures to reduce food waste by forming a grid), food waste is significantly reduced.

Politicians are wanted: only 12 percent of raw materials are currently in circulation

Brewer reports that the amount of raw materials left in the nationwide cycle is only 12 percent. One of the reasons is composite materials that can ultimately only be used thermally and products that cannot be repaired. The circular economy changes not only the current shape of the economy, but also consciousness, which is accelerated by the current crises. People are becoming more sensitive and open to a new economic model, away from ownership and towards sharing.

Zones are used multiple times

For decades, the Geiger group of companies headquartered in Oberstdorf has been dealing with the circular economy. It is not only applicable to raw materials and recycling, but also to regions. Felix Forgot, Head of Resources, Space and Real Estate Management, explains how Jaeger is rethinking space. Even before possible dismantling, an assessment is made of the valuable area that must be created after use. For example, you can also build on a landfill if it is backfilled accordingly. Since the Geiger group has relevant experience in recycling, it was also possible for them to build a living space for 500 people in a decades-old industrial wasteland. According to Fürgut, no space was used, but it was used many times. The site’s forward-looking policy pays off for municipalities. In addition to covering raw material requirements, an area can be planned for the future. Depending on whether a residential area, agricultural area or site for photovoltaic systems is to be established.

Old buildings for building materials: introducing recyclable materials into the cycle

Sean Nolan, Business Development at Concular, reports from Berlin. The startup specializes in reusing building materials. Currently, only one percent of building materials worldwide are reused, even though the construction industry generates the highest carbon dioxide emissions at 60 percent. This is where Concular comes in with digital interchange: first, objects are scanned and aisles of materials and products are created. The material is recorded in a digital repository. A bid is calculated from this data and recovered building materials are sold to architecture offices, for example. Local hardware stores are developed with building materials reclaimed from the digital platform in Berlin and Darmstadt. Nolan stresses that Concular always spells out the accounting: because it clearly shows that not only are tons of carbon dioxide and resources saved, but that recycling building materials pays off economically.

Leftover vegetables: Too bad in the trash. Beetgold develops new products.

Matthias Rother, managing director of Beetgold GmbH in Heimenkirch, describes how a startup successfully uses vegetable leftovers and creates new healthy foods. The company produces tortilla rolls or pizza crusts from pomace, the leftovers after juices have been squeezed. Because the valuable concentration of solids rich in vitamins and fiber is too good to be thrown in the trash. Beetgold worked out how to make the pomace tough and shape it. The packaging was also kept in mind from the start: everything is completely recyclable – from plant-based plastic to unpainted paper. Many believe that waste should actually be disposed of. But that’s not the case: Researching the consistency or shelf life of providing pomace year-round, as well as higher quality standards are just a few of the investments,” says Rother, who is convinced that pomace will become a regular food. Because new, whole vegetable products also help with Avoid wasting food Beetgold has already won many awards. Consolidating awareness in schools, startups standing up for change.

In the subsequent discussion, everyone agrees: everyone should review their actions and start with themselves. Politicians must create a framework for the circular economy and awareness must be raised in schools. Communication is also an important aspect: good ideas can be conveyed in municipalities or companies. As Antonia Widmer of Allgäu Digital says: “When the proportion of startups increases, there is a desire for change.” The invited startups provided the guide.

Simone Zehnpfennig
Pressesprecherin
Geschäftsfeld Städte und Kultur
Allgäu GmbH - Gesellschaft für Standort und Tourismus
Allgäuer Straße 1 | 87435 Kempten | Deutschland |  www.allgaeu.de
Tel. +49(0)831/57537-37 | Fax +49(0)831/57537-33 |  [email protected]
Aufsichtsratsvorsitzende: Landrätin Maria Rita Zinnecker
Geschäftsführer Klaus Fischer (Sprecher) | Bernhard Joachim
HRB 8342 Gerichtsstand Kempten

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