In a time where environmental consciousness and resource scarcity have become increasingly pressing, the Circular Economy offers a beacon of hope and ingenuity. While relevant theories and concepts lay the foundation for understanding the subject in the classroom, it is through real-life experiences that we witness the application and intricacies of those principles. With this in mind, Prof. Dr. Magnus Fröhling and Vanessa Heinrich from the Professorship of Circular Economy at the TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability organized a field trip for students to Munich on May 31st 2023. Participating students visited the Halle2, the second-hand store of the city of Munich, as well as the Community Kitchen, an organization taking on the challenge of local food waste and rescue. On-site, the students had the opportunity to listen to an inspiring talk on Circular Economy in municipalities and a keynote hold by Circular Republic, a sustainability consultancy from the UnternehmerTUM network, engage with the professionals and participate in workshops aimed at reducing the environmental impact of food.

The day began with an opening keynote from the municipal waste management company (AWM) in which students were introduced to the overall concept of the Halle2. Participants learned about the challenges and opportunities of local waste management and the city of Munich’s approach of introducing circularity into their day-to-day business. A key element of the idea is the collection and remanufacturing of used, but well-maintained products from recycling centers, companies and private households that are subsequently offered for sale again. As a consequence, AWM manages to give more than 170.000 products a second life every year. After a delicious lunch made from rescued food at the Community Kitchen, students were split up into groups and participated in different workshops ranging from designing a low-carbon menu to waste-saving cooking techniques. The day concluded with a guest presentation on “Circular Economy in municipalities – Munich as a pioneer city” by Vanessa Tschapke from the Department of Climate and Environmental Protection of the State Capital Munich. Furthermore, Tim Langendörfer, Operations Manager at Circular Republic gave an overview on the company’s journey on Accelerating the transition to the Circular Economy through start-up innovations.