Fraunhofer IWKS Concludes International Research Cooperation Agreement with Ethiopia

Joining Forces for More Sustainability and Resource Protection

Press Release / April 30, 2019

The Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS with locations in Alzenau (Bavaria) and Hanau (Hesse) has concluded a research cooperation with the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). This is the first cooperation in the field of environmental protection within the Fraunhofer organization with a research institution in Ethiopia. The aim of the agreement is to joint-ly advance the development of resource strategies and recycling technologies across borders. In particular, the focus is on the recovery of critical elements from electronic scrap, the recycling of plastics and packaging materials, and the extraction of fibre ma-terials from biological residues.

"Global challenges such as climate and environmental protection do not stop at national borders. Sustainable and resource-conserving management is therefore no longer an option, but a must. Together with our colleagues in Ethiopia, we want to promote the exchange of knowledge in this field and share best practices," explains Prof. Dr. Rudolf Stauber, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IWKS. "It is particularly important for us to involve local stakeholders, because this is the only way to achieve a sustainable change towards more environmental protection.”

Bavaria's Economics State Secretary Roland Weigert, who had travelled to Ethiopia with an economic and science delegation, adds: "It is an important sign that scientists from Bavaria and Ethiopia are joining forces and exploring the possibilities for cooperation. We now need partners like Bavaria to help this up-and-coming African country in business, science and political development and to meet them at eye level. We have seen a country that has a lot of catching up to do, but in which people have a clear will to move forward. That is why I am particularly pleased that the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has taken the initiative for concrete cooperation projects and has established them with our partners on the spot.”

In 2011, the Ethiopian government launched the "Climate Resilient Green Economy" initiative. The strategy aims to establish an environmentally friendly economy that will enable Ethiopia to meet its growth targets while keeping greenhouse gas emissions low. As part of the initiative, for example, Ethiopia's first waste incineration plant went into operation in 2018.

"The challenges and conditions in Ethiopia are of course not the same as in Germany or Europe - yet we often have to deal with similar waste streams. Cooperation with the EAS is also about jointly developing concepts for a waste collection system and then implementing them on site. In addition, we can learn from Ethiopia by jointly developing and testing innovative recycling technologies that are completely new and can therefore often be used more quickly and deliver important results," adds Prof. Dr. Stauber. Furthermore, both research institutions are striving for a lively exchange of scientists, for example through visiting professors or students.

In a first step, country-specific waste streams in Ethiopia will be assessed and suitable collection systems for plastic waste and electrical scrap will be evaluated. In the second half of the year, the findings will be evaluated and approaches for practical implementation developed.

As an applied research institution, Fraunhofer cooperates nationally and internationally with partners from research and industry in order to make findings from research assessible as quickly as possible. Since 2011, Fraunhofer IWKS has been a major driving force in research in the field of resource protection and conservation. The cooperation in Ethiopia will further expand the existing research expertise and make an important contribution to solving global challenges such as climate protection, resource conservation and health.

Prof. Dr. Rudolf Stauber travelled to the Democratic Federal Republic of Ethiopia from April 14 to 18, 2019 as part of a delegation trip by the Bavarian State Government. The Free State of Bavaria wants to actively support Ethiopia in its development and is expanding its international relations.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding
© Fraunhofer IWKS
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding (first row, f. l. t. r.): Prof. Dr. Rudolf Stauber (Managing Director of Fraunhofer IWKS), Prof. Tsige Gebre-Mariam (President, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences) and Prof. Teketel Yohannes Anshebo (Addis Ababa University, Department of Chemistry). Second row: Dr. Markus Söder (Bavarian Minister-President) (left) and Roland Weigert (Vice Minister Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy) (2. to the right).