Increasingly environmental problems such as water pollution, plastic in the oceans and contaminated soil are making the headlines. In order to tackle these global problems and enable sustainable economic development, our economy must become sustainable. To achieve this goal, action is needed on two fronts:
On the supply side, it is essential to create more sustainable products/services. This means that the supply of sustainable products must increase. The entire production cycle must be considered.
On the demand side, in addition to a general restriction on consumption, greater diffusion of sustainable products / services amongst consumers is needed. This means that the demand for sustainable products must increase.
Our three focal points corporate sustainability, circular economy and sustainable consumption, cover both the demand and the supply side of the economy.
Sustainable business is the private sector's contribution to achieving the SDGs and hence a more sustainable planet. Research and teaching on corporate sustainability deals with the confluence of two complex issues, the operation of a private sector company and the practical application of sustainability.
This can be done at all levels of the company, from the selection, formulation and communication of corporate values to the design of products, services and the organisation itself.nd the communication of the corporate sustainability perspective. The aim is to implement a transparent sustainability concept that is appropriate for the company and based on informed decisions.
A linear economic model still dominates globally. Raw materials are extracted and used in products, which are in turn disposed of after use. The concept of a circular economy is about converting linear production into a continuous cycle by firstly reducing the consumption of resources in the manufacturing process, secondly designing products for a longer service life by allowing reuse and repair, and thirdly continuing to use the constituent materials for value creation after use.
In the subject of the circular economy, we deal with the challenges of this model by analyzing production cycles as holistically. Since the transition from a linear to a circular economic model will not happen overnight, it is important to better understand the individual production steps. Therefore, we deliberately consider each of the production steps or the innovation behaviour of companies and investigate how these can be made more sustainable.
The main topics in this area are:
- Circular business models: How do circular business models differ from linear business models? What are the challenges?
- Sustainable production processes: How can production processes become more sustainable?
- Product innovation: How can companies be persuaded to make their products more sustainable?
- How can the potential of digital transformation be used to better implement circular business models or to better adapt products and production processes to circular business models?
- Innovation in sustainability: co-creation, human centered design, design thinking.
Consumers are crucial to the transition to a more sustainable economy. One of the key issues is how consumption can become more sustainable.
The main topics in this area are:
- Nutrition and food waste: How can consumers contribute to a more sustainable diet and to reducing food waste?
- Integration of consumers in the production process: How can we contribute to the production of more sustainable products and their consumption?
- Use of digital technologies: How can we use digital technologies to make consumption more sustainable?
- Behavioural economics in sustainability, e.g nudging.