November 16
Why the Circular Valley Forum is so important for large companies
Among the more than 1,000 guests at the summit for the circular economy are numerous corporate board members and CEOs. For them, November 16 is a day when all "relevant players come together at one table", exchange with politics, science or startups are possible, and they can expand their network.
On November 16, decision-makers from many different countries and industries will meet in the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal, Germany. What they all have in common: The circular economy plays a major role for them, making the Circular Valley Forum a very important date.

The Forum is the major conference for circular economy in Germany and, in its second year, brings together more than 1,000 guests from business, politics, science and civil society. Together, the guests exchange views on the progress of the transition to a circular economy, they discuss solutions to current challenges and learn about new business ideas. The Forum's program covers topics ranging from renewable energies and business cooperation to incentives and faster approval processes. The conference will end with DemoDay, during which international startups present their best ideas.

Among those who have announced their attendance are North-Rhine Westphalia's Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst and Flanders Prime Minister Jan Jambon. Four other members of the NRW state government have also confirmed their visit. Scientists Walter Leitner (Max Planck Institute), Lambert Koch (German University Association) and Peter Hennicke (Wuppertal Institute), as well as numerous executives from large and medium-sized companies will also be participating in the Forum.
The importance of the summit for the business community is emphasized by five top executives attending the Forum on November 16:

For Christian Kullmann, CEO of Evonik, the Circular Economy is a key factor for future economic growth and a sustainable future. It will fundamentally change the chemical industry and many other sectors, says the 54-year-old. That's what gives the Forum's visit its significance: "There's an urgent need for broad collaboration, and Circular Valley brings the relevant players to the table".

Rolf Buch, CEO of Vonovia, focuses his attention on sustainable construction. The topic is important both during the panels at the Forum and at the DemoDay. "The construction sector is one of the largest emitters, accounting for eleven percent of global CO2 emissions in the production of building materials, and must make a particularly large contribution to achieving climate targets", says the real estate group's CEO. CO2-neutral and energy-efficient construction and housing is therefore a key concern, he adds. To achieve this, Vonovia has to take a close look at the entire life cycle of a building, from planning, construction and living to possible re-use in the future.

The Circular Valley Forum is particularly helpful in this regard. Buch praises the "opportunity to exchange ideas with top companies and to learn how sustainability and climate protection are anchored there". And he is pleased about the "great encouragement from international startups" for the Rhine-Ruhr region.

Heike Prinz, Member of the Board and Labor Director at Bayer AG, emphasizes the historical connections. Her company was also a startup during the first industrial revolution 160 years ago. However, Prinz emphasizes that Bayer would not be as successful as it is today, had "the company not reinvented itself time and again and also adapted its production methods to the latest findings".

In all of this, resource conservation, recycling, sustainable value chains and other elements of a modern circular economy play an important role. Heike Prinz is therefore looking forward to "discussing these and many other exciting issues with scientists, colleagues and representatives from business, politics and society in Wuppertal".

The topic of the circular economy is anchored in Henkel's sustainability strategy. Frank Meyer, Corporate Senior Vice President R&D Consumer Brands at Henkel, explains that the implementation of a circular economy needs the "commitment of all stakeholders along the entire value chain". To this end, he wants to understand different perspectives and approaches at the Circular Valley Forum - and expand Henkel's network.

Meyer praises the "holistic approach" of the Forum agenda because it does justice to the complexity of the topic. "There are many aspects that are important for the success of a true circular economy: From the use of renewable energy and raw materials to legal frameworks to successful international cooperation and much more. It is important to keep the big picture in mind and to operate the right levers so that a circular economy can succeed. I am therefore looking forward to many exciting presentations and discussions".

Vorwerk has supported Circular Valley from the beginning and is once again actively involved in the Forum. Board member Dr. Thomas Rodemann finds that the Forum's first edition last year "made practical experiences and new ideas around circular economy visible in the region and beyond". This will also be the case this year, he says, adding that he is personally very much looking forward "to the startups of the Circular Economy Accelerator and their innovations".

Rodemann sees a clear awareness of the importance of a circular economy, but at the same time he sees major challenges: "It is impossible to imagine life without the principles of the circular economy, regardless of whether we are designing products, evaluating materials or thinking of new business models. In the process, we are finding that we quickly reach our limits as a single company. That's why we place an emphasis on collaboration with partners. These are primarily our suppliers, with whom we search for circular solutions. But there are also science and technical standardization at German, European and international levels, where we are involved in basic research and committee work".

It is precisely these stakeholders that the Circular Valley Forum will bring together on November 16.
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Clara Hennings
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