Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

Member since: 05/2019

Active in: WG Plastics

Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

The ISOE - Institute for Social-Ecological Research in Frankfurt am Main is one of the leading independent institutes for sustainability research. For 30 years, the institute has been developing scientific decision bases and sustainable concepts for politics, civil society and business - regionally, nationally and internationally. Research topics include water, energy, climate protection, mobility, urban areas, biodiversity and socio-ecological systems.

The Institute for Social Ecological Research (ISOE) has joined the Prevent Waste Alliance because we think it is crucial to establish environmentally-friendly, resource-saving waste management systems that are fair for everyone in our society.
As part of the PlastX programme, funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, six scientists at the ISOE are working on more sustainable ways of handling plastic and plastic waste. We are keen to share the results of this research and the Waste Alliance is an inspiring platform for doing so, allowing all its members to exchange ideas and develop credible solutions. The Alliance’s diverse range of members in Germany and beyond means the multi-stakeholder platform does more than just bring together expertise in different areas; it allows its members to develop and test targeted solutions in practice to meet specific needs. Reshaping the waste management industry and ensuring demands to expand the circular economy are taken seriously while taking a range of social and economic conditions into account is a complex challenge. We are convinced that integrated approaches represent the best way of solving that challenge.

The chronic over-use of natural resources is destabilising ecosystems and encouraging conflict. The negative effects of the society’s current relationship with nature are clear and obvious. That’s why ISOE is researching topics including sustainable consumer behaviour and ways to use resources more efficiently. How can we prevent resources from being wasted at the same time as creating a circular economy and making better use of the neglected resources hidden in our ‘rubbish’?
Waste (and especially plastic waste) is a serious problem for our environment that needs to be addressed urgently. To find solutions to these problems, we need to think again about ‘rubbish’. The idea of the circular economy throws the issue into sharp relief, geared as it is to reducing waste to a minimum and extending product life cycles as far as possible. It is asking questions of our society – questions we need to consider critically and carefully: How do we want to consume products? Is there another way of doing it? And how can we re-think our affluent consumer society to get away from the paradigm of unlimited economic growth?
There’s no blueprint for exactly what a circular economy ought to look like in practice. The concept is open to debate, and it can be interpreted and implemented in different ways according to circumstances. Indeed, it often has to be. We feel the circular economy should be focused not just on making more use of ‘neglected’ resources, but also on making serious efforts to avoid waste in the first place. Doing that means reducing the scale of material and product cycles, and questioning common economic incentives to produce more.
As an institution committed to taking a critical approach to researching sustainability, the ‘circular economy’ is a fundamental concept for reshaping material flows.