As essential components of production, natural resources form the basis of our prosperity; yet, they are becoming increasingly scarce on a global scale. The industrialised nations are in the lead when it comes to consumption; they consume four times more per capita than less developed countries. Therefore, the German government passed the “German Resource Efficiency Programme” (ProgRess) in 2012. Its aim is to conserve resources for ecological and social, as well as economic purposes. With the follow-up programme, ProgRess II, the Federal Government has made further progress by focusing on the entire value chain. 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package with similar objectives than ProgRess, which includes measures that will help stimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy.
Aspects of resource efficiency can be found in almost all funding measures we manage. Many of the projects in programmes, such as “Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA) and “From Material to Innovation” funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, or the “National Climate Initiative” funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, have resulted in increases in resource and energy efficiency, in decreases in resource consumption or in the extension of product lifetime. Thereby the entire chain of innovation is addressed – from basic research right up to the diffusion of innovations. Moreover, we manage a variety of funding activities supporting regional development and business start-ups. These programmes contribute to facilitate cooperation and networking between actors along the value chain. In addition, they contribute to the transfer of research results from science to industry.
We pool our know-how across all departments in the “Circular Economy” area of expertise. A systemic approach can be guaranteed by taking into account activities in other policy fields, such as bioeconomy, the energy transition, and mobility. Technological developments (for example recycling or substitution), but also socio-economic factors (such as consumer behavior or suitable business models) and the institutional framework play a central role in this. A special driving force for the implementation of the circular economy is the digitalisation.
We are member of relevant networks and committees, for example of the “Resource Conservation Network”, the “Resource Efficiency Network” (NeRess) and the “Education for Resource Conservation and Resource Efficiency Network” (BilRess). Furthermore, we engage in numerous events and (European) projects (such as ERA-Nets and Joint Programming Initiatives).