Secure Data Management for the Circular Economy

Press Information /

The circular economy makes a significant contribution to sustainability and resource efficiency by providing high-quality secondary raw materials for the economy. However, this requires close cooperation between the various players in the value chain: from waste-producing companies to transport, disposal and processing companies to the buyers of secondary raw materials. Here, digitization offers new opportunities to support this cooperation through powerful and secure information management. This is the topic of the project "Digital Information Management in the Actor Chain of the Circular Economy in the Producing Industry - DigInform", which is being carried out by partners from science and the industry: Fraunhofer IWKS, together with partners from TU Darmstadt (Department of Material Flow Management and Resource Economics and Department of Data Management), is working on scientific issues related to the conceptual design and information technology implementation of information management as well as resource efficiency, while the industry partners Merck, as a chemical industry company, and GSB Sonderabfall-Entsorgung Bayern GmbH, as a large waste disposal company, are responsible for the practical evaluation and implementation of innovative solutions. The project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the "Digital GreenTech - Environmental Technology Meets Digitalization" funding guideline with around one million euros for a period of two years.

Digitization as an opportunity

Until now, data has been viewed primarily in terms of efficient storage. However, the secure and trustworthy exchange of data between the various actors and the networking of data is even more crucial in order to leverage the full potential of the circular economy to increase resource efficiency. The European Commission's Data Strategy, published in February 2020, introduced the idea of shared data spaces. These data rooms are intended to provide an ecosystem for data across organizational boundaries.

Two challenges in particular arise for implementing this idea in the circular economy: First, the requirements of the circular economy and those of quality assurance in the purchase of raw materials are closely linked. However, both have different systematics as well as factual and legal requirements. Secondly, there is a large discrepancy in the degree of digitization between waste-generating companies, often from large-scale industry with highly developed software solutions, and small to medium-sized enterprises in the waste management industry without a large IT infrastructure. In addition, the question arises as to how the contribution of concrete circular economy measures supported by digitization to resource efficiency can be quantified, especially with regard to greenhouse gas savings.

Innovative information management system for the circular economy

In the "DigInform" project, the specific requirements for the information management system are being determined from various perspectives: those of the waste-generating companies, the waste-recycling companies and the buyers of secondary raw materials. For this purpose, further experts and practitioners from the different groups will be included via workshops and interviews. These perspectives will be brought together in a cross-actor concept of information management, which will form the basis of the data technology implementation. The "TrustDBle" platform, which is built on an intelligent combination of blockchain and database technology, will be used as a common secure data basis. The effects of information management with regard to climate protection and environmental impacts will be analyzed and evaluated with regard to the potential for the circular economy as a whole. The practical testing and validation of the information management system will take place in the context of real corporate structures of a manufacturing company of the chemical industry as well as a waste management company.

Especially in smaller companies in Germany, the implementation of such a common information management system can be expected to have significant positive effects in terms of sustainability, but also competitiveness and innovation.


Scientific contact:

Dr.-Ing. Andrea Gassmann, project lead »DigInform«

Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS

Brentanostr. 2a, 63755 Alzenau

Phone: +49 6023 32039 878




01.04.2021 – 31.03.2023



Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS

Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institute IWAR, Technical University Darmstadt

Data Management, Department of Computer Science , Technical University Darmstadt

Merck KGaA

GSB Sonderabfall-Entsorgung Bayern GmbH


Funded by:

Federal Ministry for Education and Research



About 1 mio. euros