Research groups

The Sustainable Ecosystems Engineering Research Group

The issue of sustainability has affected all of us and all disciplines for years. Challenges such as climate change, rising e-waste volumes, and the continual shifting of Earth Overshoot Day forward concern us all. The reasons are many: lack of economic incentives, consumer knowledge gaps, lack of information flows between different stakeholders, inefficient recycling practices, and many more.

    Our research orientation

    Within the Sustainable Ecosystems Engineering research group, we combine proven approaches from the fields of software engineering, digitization, and circular economy thinking to create new innovative and sustainable software ecosystems. In this context, the following research directions are among our...

    • Economic decisions often depend on a large number of different parameters and data. In order to strengthen the Circular Economy, a corresponding infrastructure is necessary, which on the one hand supports data and information acquisition, and on the other hand also provides decision support. Digital platforms for knowledge exchange and decision support in the sense of the Circular Economy goals are particularly useful in the area of repair, remanufacturing and Second Life concepts.

    • Data and information are a key factor for sustainable decisions. In the Circular Economy in particular, however, it is often not possible to generate the data and information oneself, but is dependent on the information provided by other stakeholders. In order for the various stakeholders in this area to be able to exchange their information efficiently, a legal framework is needed, for example in the form of data and information marketplaces. However, trading with data and information gives rise to a large number of new challenges that do not exist in this way in classic e-commerce, such as semantic problems, etc.

    • Most of the currently prevailing business models clearly pursue economic interests. A green image is currently more marketing than anything else. The question in this research field is, what is the right balance between ecological and economic interests?

    • The recycling industry in particular is not very automated in terms of the state of the art. While there is already talk of the 4th industrial revolution in the area of industrial production, the recycling industry is more between the first and second industrial revolution. With the help of Industry 4.0 approaches, as well as approaches from the field of computer science and digitization (for example AI, digital twins, etc.), great progress can be achieved here and, for example, the outcome of raw materials from recycling processes can be increased.

    • Waste streams and waste management are another current challenge. In particular, incorrect waste separation (for example, plastic waste in organic waste) makes it difficult to recover pure raw materials. Here, too, digitization offers potential for increasing the purity of material flows and opening up new recycling options.

    Our publications

    "Implementing the Circular Economy by Tracing the Sustainable Impact."

    The concept of the Circular Economy has been around since the 1990s. But what is the status quo today, what are the main obstacles to implementing the concept, and how can a societal shift in thinking be achieved?

    The current publication "Implementing the Circular Economy by Tracing the Sustainable Impact" by Sebastian Lawrenz, Dr. Benjamin Leiding, Marit Mathiszig, Priyanka Sharma, Prof. Dr. Andreas Rausch and Mirco Schindler (DIGIT and Institute for Software and Systems Engineering) addresses these questions.

    ABSTRACT:

    Sustainability is one of the most important issues today. The unsustainable consumption of resources such as raw materials, CO2 emissions and the linear economy therefore need to be changed. One framework for a more sustainable economy is the circular economy. Although the concept of a circular economy has been around since the 1990s, we are still far from enabling a circular economy. Therefore, a shift away from the current linear economy is needed, as well as a societal shift. In this paper, we explore the status quo of the circular economy, identify the main barriers such as lack of information, unsustainable economic models, ignorance, and lack of incentives, and propose software-based solutions to address these challenges. Our solution extends the service description language by introducing the sustainability factor. The goal is to motivate end-users to behave more sustainably without massively restricting their lives.

    Lawrenz, S.; Leiding, B.; Mathiszig, M.E.A.; Rausch, A.; Schindler, M.; Sharma, P., 2021, Implementing the Circular Economy by Tracing the Sustainable Impact. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11316. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111316 .

    Click here to access the full publication

     

    Sebastian Lawrenz, M.Sc.

    Your contact for questions to the research group:

    Center for Digital Technologies

    Sebastian Lawrenz, M.Sc.

    E-mail: sebstian.lawrenz@tu-clausthal.de