Recycling management means the use of natural resources from renewable raw materials and the reuse of waste. This protects the environment, reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, and reduces the accumulation of non-degradable synthetic materials. The circular economy is based on the material cycle of nature. The concept of circular economy is based on the idea of Cradle to Cradle, which states that biological materials can be traced back to biological and technical substances in technical cycles.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, fossil raw materials have been extracted and processed on an ever-increasing scale. From these raw materials, mostly coal or petroleum, the chemical industry has produced and produced many raw materials to this day, which are then processed into various products in all sectors of the economy. Coal and oil are still used today as energy suppliers in power generation or as a raw material for the production of fuels. The products obtained from these fossil raw materials were disposed of as waste or garbage after completion of their use, without sustainable reuse. These are linear processes that lead to the constant reduction of natural fossil resources, the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases and, at the same time, the accumulation of non-usable end products in the environment. This form of economy is therefore also referred to as linear economy, which means as disposable.
The circular economy is exactly the opposite. It conserves fossil resources and uses renewable raw materials to produce chemicals, fuels, fuels and a multitude of products. At the same time, processes are increasingly being developed that can contribute to the recycling of waste and waste. The gradual replacement of the linear economy by the circular economy thus reduces the use of resources from fossil fuels, reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants and also leads to an increase in the production of valuable products from waste. Within this process, the complete replacement of the linear economy by the circular economy is sought.
Renewable resources are an important pillar of the circular economy. Among other things, they serve as starting materials for bio-based chemicals. Specific examples of renewable raw materials include wood, bark, straw, oilseeds, crab shells, algae but also food waste, black liquor, animal meal or sewage sludge. Bio-based chemicals can be produced by chemical, biochemical and fermentative processes. Mostly it is a combination of these processes. Here, the complex processes of several natural cycles are exploited.
For example, sour milk with a high lactose content is produced during milk processing. Lactose can be converted into lactic acid by fermentation processes, which in turn often serve as a raw material for the production of biodegradable plastics in the chemical industry.
Detergents and cleaners as well as cosmetics contain surfactants whose source materials (long-chain hydrocarbons) used to be mainly derived from crude oil or coal. Increasingly, many surfactants are also obtained from vegetable oils such as sunflower oil.
The same applies to bio-based chemicals for the production of drugs, paints or varnishes.
Wood and straw are among other starting materials for so-called lignocellulosic raw materials. These raw materials consist of a combination of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, which, due to their complicated workup, have so far been mostly incinerated. However, various research facilities (Fraunhofer Institute) are currently investigating new processes for the digestion of these materials and thus their use as starting raw materials for various chemicals.