Hagedorn, Tabea; Plociennik, Christiane; Schebek, Liselotte; Vogelgesang, Malte; Pourjafarian, Monireh; Rickert, Julian; Ciroth, Andreas; Benner, Wladislaw
Overexploitation of planetary resources has detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Policies like the Green Deal of the European Commission try to address this by guiding economic activity towards resource efficiency and circular approaches, e.g. by focusing on ways to provide high-quality secondary raw materials. Despite the awareness and new policies, large amounts of material are still not being recycled. In Germany, for example, more than half of the plastic waste generated is currently recycledutilized for energy, i.e. incinerated, and is no longer available as a resource.4 Reasons for the low recycling rate are a lack of information regarding recyclable product design waste stream compositions, and the inability to match waste streams with adequate recycling technologies and subsequent applications. This phenomenon can also be applied to other waste streams such as waste electrical and electronic equipment. One possible approach for solving the lack of information and transparency is the developed and presented digital “Life cycle Record”. The cloud-based approach increases transparency in the product life cycle and is thus intended to enable the circular economy. It allows both producers and disposers to exchange information to improve the resource efficiency of complete supply chains. For example, producers can share information on a product’s ingredients and make it possible for recyclers to identify critical resources for the first time. Retroactively, disposal companies are given the opportunity to provide direct feedback to producers on the sortability and recyclability of products. Additionally, artificalartificial intelligence algorithms can be used to analyze the data related to the life cycle record and its corresponding physical product and to inform e.g. sorting decisions.