Sustainable Products & Material Flows

Our Sustainable Products & Material Flows Division concentrates on sustainable consumption and production, chemicals management and technology assessment.

Our research and consultation projects are geared to practical implementation, seeking to make the vision of sustainable develop­ment operational for specific sectors and companies, “areas of need” and policy instruments and strategies.

Our staff scientists take part in the development and deployment of new technologies, help companies develop innovative products, assess products and services, and provide practical decision-support tools for both consumers and procurers. In the analysis of the potential for optimization, the entire product life cycle from raw material extraction and production to use and disposal is taken into account. Our scientist not only give due account to ecological considerations, but also address social issues within the value chain.

In the various policy arenas, we work together with a broad array of stakeholders to shape the practical implementation of European framework directives (such as REACH, RoHS, WEEE and ErP) and to refine and align the many (sustainability) labels on both a national and international level.

We deploy a broad set of methodologies for our studies. These include life-cycle assessment (LCA) and greenhouse gas inventories (Product Carbon Footprinting, PCF) for products and com­panies, eco-efficiency, material-flow analysis, cost-benefit analysis, impact assessment, hazardous substance inventory analysis and exposure scenarios. Product Sustainability Assessment (PROSA) – a methodology developed by the Institute – provides strategic guidance for numerous projects.

Our team consists of more than twenty, highly committed researchers representing a broad range of disciplines. Our clients include various Directorates-General of the European Commission, national ministries with focus on the environment (BMUB) and research (BMBF), the German Federal Environment Agency, private-sector companies and industry federations, environmental and consumer NGOs and foundations. On the international level, our main commissioning parties are UNEP, the United Nations University (UNU), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Federal Ministry of the Environment.