Anna Kerps

(born Anna Schulte)

Anna Kerps works in the Research Department "Circular Logistics and Sustainability". Her focus is on the combination of ecological assessment (Life Cycle Assessment) and the integration of indicators and characteristics of the Circular Economy.

© Fraunhofer UMSICHT
Anna Schulte

What are you working on at Fraunhofer CCPE? What creative ideas are you currently pursuing in your research area?

With the evaluation of plastic products and materials as well as new technologies that make our plastic economy more circular. My focus is on the combination of ecological assessment (Life Cycle Assessment) and the integration of indicators and characteristics of the Circular Economy.

Do you have a specific project example respectively why is this interesting for the industry/society?

Our value chain should become circular and sustainable. However, it is difficult for industry and society to quantify where to start and which measures have which leverage.

With the approaches developed, we can, for example, accompany new recycling technologies in an early stage of maturity, in which many lines of freedom are still available. The recognition of ecological hotspots and the quantification of circularity as added value is essential for the success of the transformation. This enables us to identify ecologically meaningful application scenarios, allowing us to make an active contribution to sustainable development together with industry.

Also concrete decisions on the product level, such as whether a defective car door should be replaced or repaired or what influence downcycling effects in recycling have for the material selection are part of our research.

What is your highlight from almost 5 years of Fraunhofer CCPE?

The collaborations that have resulted from the cooperation. I cannot and do not want to single out any of them here.

What makes your work special?

The change and variety in the projects themselves. Even though the work always has to do with plastics, we handle projects from the medical industry to the automotive sector. Plastics are in so many products and it's hard to imagine our everyday lives without them. Unfortunately, plastics are often associated with negative effects on the environment. It is important to identify these causes and effects and to develop innovative solutions along the value chain. I am pleased that my work places me in the area of tension between ecological action and process engineering or material-relevant issues, which must be overcome.

How does your daily work routine look like?

I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk, as ecological assessment often involves intensive research and data collection. I often also get insights into the processes and product systems (on site) that I am evaluating and can therefore see and get to know a lot. The most exciting part for me is always the evaluation and discussion with customers when theory meets practice. Especially when, while presenting the results, people's minds immediately start rattling about which solutions can be implemented in the short and long term. It is particularly nice when we can accompany technologies or developments in the long term and achieve a certain level of detail, and identified recommendations for action are put into practice by means of changes and, if necessary, investments.

Looking ahead, what would you like to see happen at Fraunhofer CCPE?

Cooperation on the level of content and project-related collaboration could be lived to an even greater extent. As institutes of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the application relevance of our research is particularly important. There are enough networking points and interfaces and they often arise in the middle of the content-related project work, so that research ideas should also be developed bottom-up from time to time. I think the challenges facing the cluster in the coming years will be how we can consolidate our findings with industry. This requires strong partnerships and clever minds on all sides.

What could Fraunhofer CCPE do to make the world a little better in the future?

Certainly with some innovative technologies and materials - but in any case with many bright minds that will continue to drive innovative ideas in the future.

Which invention in the field of Circular Plastics Economy do you personally hope for?

The digitalization of process and value chains. For evaluation, we often need extensive data on products and processes, which is rarely available or has to be collected at great expense. In the future, innovations such as the digital product passport could enable us to collect and evaluate such data automatically. This would increase the resilience of (ecological) evaluations and allow us further directional certainty for the ecological transformation towards the Circular Plastics Economy.