Communication, communication, communication: Dr. Helmut Spoo on new ways to remain sustainable

Dr Helmut Spoo is an environmental consultant who has been at the forefront of innovative concepts for decades. He sat down with us at the International Media Briefing to detail new ways that businesses can achieve sustainability.

With a storied background in waste management, quality management and sustainable material processing, you would be hard pressed to find a more knowledgable source of information on sustainable solutions than Dr Helmut Spoo. The environmental expert has been director and owner of his own consultancy firm, Dr Spoo Umwelt-Consulting for nearly 30 years, and was generous enough to lend some of his insight to us at IMB 2022.

How can a more carbon neutral economy be created?

You must have a look at the different industrial processes. For example, cement production and aluminium production are processes that produce a lot of carbon dioxide emissions. The cement industry produces 7% to 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

This is due to the separation of calcium carbonate. 500 to 600 kilograms of calcium carbonate per tonne of cement is emitted by the process. You cannot avoid it. We will recycle this cement, so there is no emission of carbon dioxide. That is one point, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is possible. We will do it.

How can we save more raw materials?

Firstly, communication is very important.

Communication, communication, communication, we have heard it before. People must know it makes sense to collect the different materials and then separate them, because certain products include only a small ratio of raw materials. But if you collect 10 million pieces, that is a problem.

What function does the circular economy have for a more sustainable economy?

A circular economy is sustainable because we are thinking in circles, like nature does. We must not produce waste, it is senseless. There is a loss of material, as well as high costs and other negative aspects.

Can recycling be more sustainable?

Recycling is sustainable. There are two components: reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and reduction of raw materials. We have seen the production of raw materials is very expensive and very dangerous for nature.

The recycling process is very efficient, for example using artificial intelligence and better separation methods.

We are developing this separation technology for electronic scrap with a new identification technology using the neutron activation analysis method. This method uses neutrons and allows us to identify the different elements of scrap metal.

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