Meet the partner: Catharina Bening and David Pfeffer from ETH Zürich

Catharina Bening leads the research on Circular Economy in the Group for Sustainability & Technology at ETH Zürich. David Pfeffer is a doctoral student at the university and his research is investigating how regulation, economics, and economic policies can foster the transition towards a circular plastic industry. 

Can you shortly introduce your role in the INCREACE project?

My name is Catharina Bening, and together with David Pfeffer, I am responsible for WP6 in the INCREACE project. Generally speaking, we are interested in the cost of transitioning towards more closed loop solutions and the associated restructuring of existing value chains.

How did ETH Zürich get involved in the INCREACE project?

Kim (Ragaerts) was so kind to think of us when composing the consortium and we are happy to provide an additional perspective  – the economic and regulatory perspective – which in our view is essential to understand in order to enable the envisioned goal of circular plastics.

How do you see the added value of INCREACE for ETH Zürich?

The INCREACE projects brings together various experts of the plastic industry. Being part of this expert group is very valuable for ETH as it facilitates the exchange of knowledge between different stakeholders and expands our network in Europe, not only among academics but also into the industry. Through this collaboration we can obtain a thorough understanding of the current economic and regulatory challenges and barriers to the uptake of recycled plastics.

What is the role of ETH Zürich in the INCREACE project?

Our role in the INCREACE project is to show the implications of (future) systematic changes in the plastic industry from an economic perspective. This will involve investigating how changes in regulation, and economic policy affect different parts of the value chain and might create new market opportunities. Moreover, it will focus on the role of price developments, substitution of materials and the creation of new market applications for recycled materials in a circular plastic industry. To do so, we will build upon many of the findings from the other partners in the project.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of the project?

By participating in the INCREACE project we aim to develop a framework of how a circular plastic industry can look like in the future. Based on this framework we hope to provide clear guidelines to policymakers for designing effective regulatory, and economic policies that can foster a circular transition of the plastic industry. Furthermore, we hope to contribute to answering the crucial question for the plastics industry of identifying sustainable end markets for recycled plastics.

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    This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grand agreement No 101058487