In January 2021, the research group Christian Doppler Laboratory for Design and Assessment of an efficient, recycling-based Circular Economy, abbreviated as CD-Laboratory for a recycling-based Circular Economy, was established at the Research Unit of Mechanical Process Engineering and Clean Air Technology, Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering (ICEBE).


Through the Circular Economy Package, the EU aims to reduce raw material imports and environmental impacts of raw material extraction. This should be achieved, amongst other measures, by recycling rates for important municipal solid wastes (MSW) such as glass, plastics, metals, paper, cardboard, and corrugated cardboard packaging. At the same time, more waste textiles should be collected, re-used and recycled, while recyclable materials should be extracted from MSW incineration bottom ashes.

The CD-Laboratory for a recycling-based Circular Economy contributes to these objectives by establishing a scientific knowledge-base for the efficient recovery of secondary raw materials from different MSW streams. This should be achieved by improving existing and developing new techniques of separate collection, automatic sorting, and MSW incineration bottom ash treatment. The CD-Laboratory for a recycling-based Circular Economy consists of two Modules at two Austrian Universities.

In Module 1, first a method for assessing the efficiency of recyling systems will be developed. It builds on existing economic and environmental assessment indicators. It will then be tested to existing MSW management systems. Then, options to increase recycling rates of existing MSW management systems will be designed and investigated in large-scale experiments, formulated as Case Studies.

In Case Study A, mixed MSW and separately collected recyclable wastes will be sampled and analyzed. Then, options to increase the separate collection rate of materials such as packaging glass, plastics, metals, and paper, cardboard & corrugated cardboard, are designed and tested. Future waste compositions, induced for instance by new and particularly multi material packaging (e.g. plastic + cardboard instead of plastics), will be considered. This Case Study is carried out by Lea Gritsch as PhD student and Gisela Breslmayer as Master student.

Case Study B investigates options to extract secondary raw materials, particularly metals, plastic packaging, paper, and textiles from selected MSW streams. Therein, Case Study B1 deals with the mechanical sorting and chemical treatment of non-re-useable waste textiles from separate collection and mixed MSW. This is done by Andreas Bartl, head of the Research Group of Recycling Technology of ICEBE, his PhD students Wolfgang Ipsmiller and Pablo Kaehlig, and his student assitants Debora Zoechling and Teresa Pham. In Case Study B2, PhD students Dominik Blasenbauer and Anna-Maria Lipp, together with student assitant Ricarda Rainer, investigate the recovery of packaging metals, plastics, and paper from mixed MSW by automatic sorting.  

In Case Study C, PhD students Julia Muehl and Simon Hofer, and student assistants Felix Feher, Caroline Luszczak, Stefan Paul, and Nico Scherzer, investigate the improved treatment of different MSW incineration bottom ashes to recover not only more metals, but also glass and minerals for cement and concrete production.

In Module 2, innovations in sensor-based waste stream characterization and monitoring, as well as automatic sorting, will be tested and furhter developed. The associated work is carried out by the team of Alexia Aldrian from the Chair of Waste Processing Technology and Waste Management, opens an external URL in a new window at Montanuniversitaet Leoben, opens an external URL in a new window.

Results form Module 1 Case Studies and Module 2 will be used to design and assess future MSW management and recycling options.


In general, the results of the CD-Laboratory should help private and public stakeholders to achieve a circular economy for selected materials in the most efficient way. Thereby, the project will contribute to a future sustainable raw material supply in Austria and Europe.

In particular, the publicly available results of the CD-Laboratory will be published at this webpage under the links Research topics and Newsblog.