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WFG Heilbronn, Germany

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1. Challenge

How to efficiently support and lead regional companies towards the circular economy and carbon neutrality, without increasing burdens and damaging their competitiveness?

The WFG Heilbronn in Germany is grappling with the challenge of how to efficiently lead and support its regional industries toward a green transformation, in line with the European Green Deal and societal expectations for sustainability and carbon neutrality.

This transformation must be achieved without imposing additional burdens that could affect the competitiveness of the companies involved. The main obstacle lies in the transition to more sustainable practices and the integration of circular economy principles into existing business models.


2. Solution

In response to this challenge, the WFG Heilbronn collaborated with the Value Chain Generator® to develop a data-driven Circular Industry Portfolio tailored to the specific needs and potentials of the region.

This innovative approach, requiring no pre-existing data from the region, was unfolded through an expert-led workshop, a detailed report, and a digital platform for continuous exploration and development.

The process began by identifying three bio-based industries within the region that presented the highest potential for economic and climate impact.

One of the prioritised industries was the dairy industry which is very strong in the region, while also producing a lot of by-products and whey wastewater that present a burden for the companies and the environment. These residuals can be transformed into valuable resources for the pharmaceutical and automotive industries as well as plastic production companies, provided it is processed using appropriate technologies. 

The implementation phase involved a thorough validation of the identified value chains, considering the regional infrastructure and capabilities. The validation process confirmed that there are sufficient dairy companies, automotive industry, and plastic production companies in the cluster which can collaborate in the new value chains.

The potential of using organic waste inputs for bioplastics production.
Image source: Pexels.com.

The initiative has a profound environmental impact, with the potential to avoid 13 kg of CO2e for every kilogram of whey processed for the food industry and 1.8 kg CO2 per kg of PLA bioplastics. Given that whey production amounts to 9-10 liters per kilogram of cheese and represents 90% of the milk volume processed, the scale of potential CO2e reduction is significant. This can save the companies in the wider region the estimated waste management costs of over 250 million EUR while generating new revenue streams and economic growth.

Circular Solution for the Plastics Production Industry

3. Client’s Testimonial

“Value Chain Generator helps us take a more effective approach to achieving our climate-neutrality goals. The clear visualization of the value chains makes it easier to prioritize and develop new projects. We discovered new possibilities and industry links that we hadn’t considered before. For instance, we explored how the regional automotive industry fits into the circular biomaterial value chains.” 

Dr. Patrick Dufour, WFG Heilbronn

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