The 7th CEMEREM Summer School on “Circular Economy” was successfully held in Germany from 17th to 21st July 2023. The event welcomed 15 students and 2 staff members from TTU (Taita Taveta University) attended the summer school. The expert lectures and hands-on workshops contributed significantly to enhancing the participants’ understanding and commitment to adopting circular economy principles.
The Summer School commenced with an opening address by Prof Ulrike Feistel, the project leader of CEMEREM. The first day focused on an interactive workshop on “Circular Economy,” where participants were divided into groups to discuss the current waste management situation and challenges in Kenya.
After the workshop featured expert lectures from prominent industry professionals and academics. Topics included “Potentials and limits of recycling for natural resources needs” by Prof Bongaerts, “Step stones for circularity in packaging” by Peter Görlitz, a Sustainability Manager of Snoco, “E-waste and the relation to conflict minerals” by Oscar Choque, a promotor of Natural Resource Policy of Saxony, and “Recovery of metals from refrigerators” by Felipe Alejandro García, a scientific assistant of Helmholtz Institute. This session provided an excellent foundation for understanding the importance of circular economy principles.
The second day participants had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by visiting a collection and recycling centre in Dresden and the Institute of Waste Management and Circular Economy of TU Dresden. This practical exposure allowed them to witness real-world waste management processes in Germany.
In Freiberg, participants visited LuxChemtech, a pioneering company in recycling silicon waste from the solar industry. They also explored the “Additive Manufacturing Using Organic Based Materials” laboratory and “Water Recycling” test side at TU Bergakademie Freiberg. These visits provided valuable insights into innovative recycling practices and sustainable technologies.
In the workshop “Paper Recycling” participants underwent hands-on practical training on how to recycle waste paper packaging to produce new paper at the Institute of Natural Materials Engineering of TU Dresden. They obtained basic knowledge of techniques in the pre-treatment of waste papers, milling, pulp making, and the operation of basic paper-making equipment at the laboratory. After this session, the team travelled to the premises of “Hainsberg Paper”, a medium scaled paper recycling company to familiarise themselves with their mode of operations.
The last day’s excursion to Agra-Genossenschaft Bergland Clausnitz focused on the application of circular economy concepts in agriculture. Participants gained insights into the closed-loop system of farming, where crops were grown to feed livestock, manure and bio-waste were used for generating electricity for the farm and the grid, and producing fertilizers for the fields.
In the final workshop, participants presented their learning outcomes and provided feedback. The summer school inspired them to initiate research work and activities related to waste management, aiming for sustainable development in their home country, with the campus of TTU being their first target.
Many Kenyan participants expressed experiencing a “cultural shock,” particularly regarding the German culture of punctuality and directness. However, they quickly adapted, thanks to the preparation beforehand, and the week turned out to be pleasant and enriching for all involved.
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