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Waste Prevention by use of Flexible Packaging


Cover of the Report26.1.2015 The principal aim of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive is the prevention of packaging waste.
On behalf of Flexible Packaging Europe (FPE), the IFEU analysed whether the substitution of non-flexible packaging by flexible packaging solutions would lead to waste prevention and an overall decrease in resources consumption. The analysis revealed that the reduction in primary packaging waste associated with a switch to flexible packaging amounted to over 60 % of the total annual amount of primary packaging waste in the EU. A potential substitution of all non-flexible packaging used for non-beverage fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) by flexible packaging solutions would improve total Global Warming Potential (GWP) and Abiotic Depletion (ADP) results of all European FMCGs packaging, regardless of the various recycling rates modelled in a number of different scenarios. In consequence, the benefits of the substitution of flexible packaging for non-flexible packaging may distinctly exceed those of an increased recycling rate.

More information:
Executive Summary of the Study ( pdf 37 KB)

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Calculation Tool for Milk - presented on the International Green Week


foto Dr. Guido Reinhardt19.1.2015 During the International Green Week, the world's major consumer fair on foods, IFEU director Dr. Guido Reinhardt presents the first publicly accessible calculation tool for the environmental impacts of dairy products. IFEU developed a publicly available greenhouse gas calculation tool for milk, yogurt, cheese and further dairy products in a research project supported by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. For the project, in addition to greenhouse gases and energy, all other relevant environmental parameters were investigated, as targeted by a life cycle assessment. Also a comprehensive final report was compiled.

More information ...

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Change of the IFEU Executive Board


Foto Schluesseluebergabe; Fotograf: U. Höpfner
from left:
Markus Duscha, Dr. Martin Pehnt, Andreas Detzel, Lothar Eisenmann, Jürgen Giegrich

(with future IFEU-Logo)

15.12.2014 This year’s Christmas party at the IFEU provided the suitably festive setting to bid farewell to the current executive directors stepping down and to welcome the new executive board. Markus Duscha and Jürgen Giegrich had been at the helm of the IFEU for about five years. Now they look forward to a break from primarily administrative duties and the return to their scientific roots at the IFEU. "You have done a brilliant job. Under your leadership, the IFEU substantially expanded its staff and diversified in topics. Our most heartfelt thanks for that", Bernd Franke applauded the parting directors while the entire IFEU staff expressed their appreciation. At the same time, the new executive board – Andreas Detzel, Lothar Eisenmann and Dr. Martin Pehnt – were given a warm welcome. "Come 1st of January 2015, it will be your turn. Together, you are looking at more than 50 years of experience at the IFEU, so you’ll know what to expect. You have prudently divided the workload of the executive management so that it will be in able hands. We wish you the best of luck!"

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Blue Angel for Printed Products


10.12.2014 On their annual meeting on December 9th 2014 the independent "Jury Umweltzeichen" adopted the new German environmental label "Blue Angel" for printed products. Under the guidance of oekom Verlag München, IFEU Heidelberg and Ökopol Hamburg, in partnership with "Frankfurter Buchmesse" developed - under active involvement of the stakeholders - criteria for low-emission and natural resources sparing printing products.

The core criteria are

  • the only use of "Blue Angel" UZ14 und UZ72 certified recycled paper
  • restriction of VOC-emissions in the print shop
  • use of mineral oil free and low-polluting links
  • imperative of high grade recyclability of the used products
  • need of energy- and waste management in the print shop

For the first time digital and rotogravure printing was included in the awarding criteria.

More information ... (Website BMUB, in German)

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GBEP-Indicators for Sustainable Bioenergy


Cover of the Report14.11.2014 The Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) as a globally relevant intergovernmental platform adopted a set of 24 indicators to assess and monitor the sustainability of modern bioenergy. The indicators shall provide a tool for policy-makers and other stakeholders that informs on the development of the bioenergy sector and that allows monitoring the impact of related policies and programs.

The indicators are now being pilot tested in different countries. The pilot testing in Germany is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and assigned to IFEU in cooperation with IINAS (Darmstadt). Its objective is to assess the feasibility of evaluating the 24 indicators in Germany. The assessment reveals which of the indicators are difficult to be applied and where the methodologies may need adaptation. A focus is put on describing deficits and on deriving proposals on how to deal with them. These lessons learned are mirrored back into the GBEP process. The recently released report has been presented at the GBEP-meeting on 12 November 2014 in Rome.

More information ...

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Dr. Ulrich Höpfner was appointed Honorary Chairman of IFEU


Foto Dr. Hoepfner27.10.2014 In October 2014, the scientific board of IFEU and its shareholder meeting appointed Dr. Ulrich Höpfner, one of the founders and long-time executive director of the Institute, honorary chairman. This made him not only the first emeritus in the meanwhile 36-year-old history of the Institute, but also the first employee to whom this title had been awarded. Markus Duscha, current executive director, is pleased to be able to honor the dedicated scientists in this way: "The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research would not be what it is today, without Ulrich Höpfner. We have to thank him a lot!" Ulli, as his friends and colleagues call him, was executive director of IFEU and member of its scientific board from 1978 – 2009. He was also the scientific director of the department "Transport and Environment".

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First Passive House in West China Certified


photo of the passive house25.09.2014 Urumqi, Xinjiang Province/China
The certification ceremony for West China’s first passive house in Xingfulu (Happiness Rd.) in Urumqi was attended by the vive governor of the Xinjiang province, the vice mayor of Urumqi and Ms. Kundermann, first counsellor for science and technology from the German embassy in Beijing. The winters in Urumqi are extremely cold. Together with the investor Dacheng International and the Urumqi Construction Committee the goal to lower the heat demand by 80 % compared to the requirements for new buildings was achieved. The architectural design of the 8.000 m2 building with offices, shops and restaurants was prepared jointly by Culturebridge Architects Grünstadt and the Xinjiang Architectural Design Institute; the Passive House Institute in Darmstadt/Germany provided ongoing review. The demands on building quality were high; passive house windows were produced for the first time by REHAU, a German company with a production facility in China. IFEU’s work was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Future Megacities research programme.

Foto: from left: Dr. Berthold Kaufmann (Passivhaus-Institut), Christian Hennecke (Culturebridge Architects), Xiong BO (Dacheng), Bernd Franke (IFEU)IFEU project director Bernd Franke declared: "This is the first passive house in China’s extremely cold climate zone. The technical and economic challenges were great. I am very pleased that our Sino-German team created a lighthouse for the sustainable development of Urumqi. With IFEU support, a passive house standard for Xinjiang is currently being developed. This guarantees many more projects like this one will follow."

More information… (Website RECAST Urumqi)

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IFEU further extends Research Focus on Algae


Fig. Jar of Fish, Flax & Borage Oil: Udo Lambrecht12.09.2014 For more than two decades, IFEU has been involved in various projects regarding bioenergy, biorefineries and renewable resources. Now IFEU further extends its research on algae by two new algae projects called D-FACTORY and PUFAChain that are funded by the European Commission. Both projects focus on the industrial cultivation of microalgae and their processing to high-value products such as omega-3 fatty acids, carotinoids or bioenergy. Within these projects, IFEU performs an integrated sustainability assessment, which evaluates the sustainability of the entire life cycle – from algae cultivation to the use of the end products. That way the most sustainable product portfolios and production techniques for microalgae biorefineries can be identified.

More information on the subject and the individual projects can be found here...

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First Passive House in Tianjin: with IFEU Support


Starting in July 2014, IFEU supports the Technological Development Center of Beijing Uni-Construction Group Co., Ltd. (BUCC) in planning for the construction of a passive house in Tianjan, a major harbor city East of Beijing. For this project, IFEU cooperates with the Passive Hause Institute/Darmstadt and Culturebridge Architects/Grünstadt. The 14-storey residential building with an area of 7.000 m2 will be completed by the end of 2015. The heat demand of 15 kWh per m2 and year represents only about 20 % of the requirement for new buildings according to the Chinese standards and will be supplied by electric heat pumps and solar thermal panels. Staff of BUCC and the local construction committee was trained at a recent 3-day workshop in Tianjin where many technical details were resolved. Following the Xingfubao passive house in Urumqi/Xinjiang this is the second project where a passive house is realized in China with IFEU support. IFEU project director Bend Franke declares: "The interest in building passive houses increases rapidly in China. These projects are a clear signal that increasing the energy efficiency in buildings is a high priority for Chinese construction companies and decision makers alike."

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Air Pollution from Mobile Machinery – IFEU Studies and Symposium


31.07.2014 Pollutant emissions from mobile machinery, i.e. construction machinery, agriculture and forestry equipment or petrol-fuelled tools for private households, have long been considered negligible in air quality monitoring and efforts for improvement. An IFEU study commissioned by the German Federal Environ­mental Agency (UBA) has tackled this preconception to test its validity (completed in 12/2013; now available as UBA publication 24/2014). "Particulate matter emissions from mobile machinery currently amount to the equivalent of the combined exhaust emissions of the entire road transport sector. For nitrogen oxides, mobile machinery emissions are equivalent to a quarter of overall road transport emissions. The limits for particulate matter and NOx stipulated in the European air quality standards are frequently exceeded in many German cities, thus mobile machinery has to be considered in air quality monitoring. Mobile machinery may play a minor role in overall background pollution levels, yet it could be responsible for considerable local pollution peaks."

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg (MVI) was eager to learn further details. Although pollutant levels in Baden-Württemberg are generally decreasing from year to year, several municipal monitoring facilities are reporting that limits are frequently exceeded. At present, IFEU is analysing the share of emissions from mobile machinery out of the overall pollutant emissions in Baden-Württemberg and how to approach regulation and avoidance of these emissions. In addition, the IVU Umwelt GmbH modelled emission dispersion for specific locations with known high pollutant loads. The Federal State of Baden-Württemberg is thus encouraged to reduce emissions from construction machinery, especially particulate matter, in the near future.

Results from the IFEU study were presented at the MVI symposium in Stuttgart on 17 July 2014 (Photograph: project leader Hinrich Helms) where a forum of about 100 experts in the field critically discussed the findings in context with other relevant talks. The debate focussed on the modification of official regulations in Baden-Württemberg to accelerate the introduction of particulate filters for construction machinery. State-of-the-art filter application has been shown to be the most effective measure to improve air quality for construction workers and local residents.

IFEU-Study for the German Federal Environmental Agency (Texte 24/2014)

IFEU-Study for the MVI-Baden-Württemberg (July 2014)

MVI Symposium July 17, 2014 – Press Release

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Workshop "Building Renovation Strategies",


photo Martin Pehnt30.05.2014 Building Renovation Strategies. From Directive to Delivery - Presentations available

Out of the 28 expected renovation strategies (required by the article 4 of the Energy Efficiency Directive), only 10 were submitted to the European Commission as of May 16. Some lack ambition, some have no commitment to new policies and some are non-compliant: this proves the challenge to produce long-term, ambitious and impactful strategies.

BPIE, the state of Baden-Württemberg and the German Institute for Energy and Environment (IFEU) jointly organised at May 16, 2014 a conference on building renovation strategies. The event showcased notable national and regional examples which were the subject of a lively debate between the speakers and 100 participants. BPIE intends to undertake a more detailed critique of the national strategies over the coming months to identify shortcomings and best practices.

More information ...

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Biofuels in Aviation


cover of the sudy26.05.2014 The aviation sector is growing faster than any other transport sector. However, in contrast to road and rail transport, there are few opportunities for climate change mitigation in aviation. In addition to energy efficiency optimisation, the focus of the aviation industry is primarily on the replacement of fossil kerosine with biofuels. The protestant development and relief agency "Bread for the World" (Brot für die Welt) is tackling the issue of tourism causing climate change. In consequence, the question of climate-friendly and sustainable air travel arises. Is the aviation industry in the position to maintain its claims for responsible travel that is fair to the environment? Bread for the World commissioned IFEU to explore the sustainability of biofuels in a short study with a focus on the following questions:

How valid is sustainability certification? Which requirements are relevant, what are the legal obligations, how may these be put into practice?

What is the role of core issues, such as securing nutrition given competition between food and fuel production, impacts on the climate or environmental impacts that go beyond climate change mitigation alone?

More information ...

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How to design sustainable multifeedstock, multiproduct biorefineries


Pictures: Courtesy to BIOCORE (left) / CIMV (right)08.05.2014 After four years of work, the FP7-funded project BIOCORE (BIOCOmmodity REfinery), which developed an advanced lignocellulose-based biorefinery concept, has recently been successfully completed. The project focused on the production of a wide range of products from non-food biomass feedstocks using an innovative Organosolv technology. Within the project, IFEU led the work package on „Integrated Sustainability Assessment“.

It was found that the most sustainable of the assessed scenarios focus on material use of biomass fractions, e.g. producing the polymer precursor itaconic acid, lignin-based resins and the sweetener xylitol. However, such advanced biorefineries are not sustainable per se but can instead also result in creating additional burdens, which is e.g. crucially influenced by the product portfolio.

Read more in the report on environmental assessment (containing LCA results, among others) and in the report on integrated sustainability assessment.

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