So my name is Jos and I’m working on research in circular economy and automotive sector, and I would like to know your point of view. If you accept, I’m going to record our conversation, transcribe it and put the transcription with a pseudonym, not with your real name in a repository of text documents that will be used for the research. If you do this and you change your mind and no longer want to participate, get in touch with us and we will immediately remove your interview from the repository. I’m leaving you an information sheet with the contact informations, so please, if you agree, then tell me your first name and that you agree.
My first name is Marcel and I agree.
Thank you, Marcel. So the first question can you define a circular economy in your own words?
A circular economy is something. For example, bottle to bottle or cradle to cradle or even car to car. That would be the best case. So if you think about, for example, an automotive about all the metals and plastics, so you use them in the usage phase, then they are going to be shredded or recycled and then they’re going to be reused for the same purpose. So it’s not a down cycling that you make, maybe a bench or something or flooring out of the plastics, but you really use it for the same purpose again and again and again. That’s, in my opinion, the real meaning of a circular economy.
Do you participate in a circular economy yourself in any aspect of your life?
In my personal life, you mean? I mean I’m a waste management engineer. So yes, of course. I really take care about about to fulfill, let’s say, the requirements, bring the bottles back, separate the paper from the rest and all of that. Yes, of course I do that myself because it’s very important, obviously.
How did you become interested in circular economy ideas and practices?
That was that was a long time ago. I think at school I was already interested in in basically in waste recycling in general. And then this is also what I studied. So that’s why I heard not only the first time circular economy. So I heard a long time before, but at that time that’s now more than ten years ago when I finished my my diploma thesis. And at that time the technology was not really there. It was just growing. So to make it really circular, you need also technology to sort everything out and to, you know, all these things were just established. So 10 or 15 years ago was more a dream. Now more and more it becomes reality. And that is really amazing to see.
In your opinion, can a circular economy be implemented in individual sectors or industries?
Yes, definitely. I think one good example is what I just mentioned very before the start of the interview. The pet bottle recycling the technology is there or has been there for a long time. And then also it comes with a real, let’s say, the collection systems and all of that. So if you put the regulations right, so if there is a deposit system, for example, so people really bring the bottles back, then the technology is also there to remelt those and create new bottles for that. So this is one example in metal recycling, there are many others because metal has a value. And if you think about a car or if you think about UBC’s used beverage cans, for example, if the collection system works, you can infinitely recycle them. The same you can do with cars. When they are shredded. You can extract the aluminium, for example, out of the stream, the ferris, all of the all of the metals. And those are then infinitely recyclable and can be even changed to the physical or the chemical compositions later on in the melting process. So those are two classical examples. But of course there is a lot to do still in both worlds in metal recycling, but also in plastics and waste recycling.
Do you think the circular economy already exists in the car industry.
For metals? Definitely it does because they have a value. For polymers I would say not so much. Especially there is a lot of black polymers in the car and those black polymers are filled with carbon. So black carbon. So these cannot be detected by near-infrared sensors, etcetera. So there is a bit of technology missing, plus all these black polymers, they have very specific chemical composition. So you cannot say it’s a pure like a pet bottle. Again, you really know it’s pure pet with a with a bumper of a car. You don’t know it can be from supplier A, it’s different than supplier B and it’s really hard to to detect this chemical composition. So therefore, it’s hard to reuse them for a purpose in a car. With metals Different story. Everything is here. You see that also, right? If you see that here, what we have at technology. So that works for polymers. It’s not completely applied and there are some technical hurdles.
Uh, do you currently own a car?
I own a car, yes, I do.
Which car - a young one or older one?
It’s- I think it’s now one and a half year old. It’s a Toyota hybrid car. So I can. I can. It’s a hybrid car. Yes, but not you cannot charge it. So it’s this like the Prius, but just a Corolla. So that’s this kind of hybrid.
What is the one adjective that comes to mind when you think about electronics in a car?
Electronics in a car. What is the main objective? You mean can you.
Your first thought when you think about that?
When I think about electronics in a car, my first thought is first it has to work. When I think about my car and the amount is it’s increasing and increasing. So there’s more and more electronics in the car. It will become even more, I guess the whole entertainment systems will be more sensors, of course, more little motors to adjust the seats and all of that stuff. If that’s all needed, I would doubt it. But it’s definitely it’s there’s a lot of increase of electronics used in a car.