Environmental Economics / Sustainability Management
Companies are faced with the challenge of considering economic, ecological and social goals in their decision-making in order to contribute to a socially desired sustainable development. To reach ecological goals, companies can increase their legal certainty and competitiveness by participating in environmental audits (e.g. EMAS regulation, DIN EN ISO 14000). These can also provide image benefits and cost savings. Here, the design of the environmental audit process focusing on increasing acceptance and credibility is of particular interest (Reimer/Schenk-Mathes 2020). In order to analyze and, in particular, document the economic, ecological and social impacts of their corporate activities, companies can prepare sustainability reports in accordance with recognized standards (such as GRI standards). In addition, instruments and concepts for the assessment of company-related processes and products exist in sustainability accounting. In general, methods of multi-criteria decision theory (ongoing PhD projects) are applicable in this area.
In addition to research questions on sustainable corporate management and reporting, an important task is the creation of suitable framework conditions for companies so that they can contribute to the Circular Economy. The Circular Economy strives towards the return of goods to the economic cycle and the creation of new usage concepts. Tasks consist of the recording of material and product flows within companies, but also between companies (Reimer/Schenk-Mathes/Hoffmann/Elwert 2018) and, building on this, in the planning of recycling and disposal capacities (ongoing doctoral project). Finally, support is needed in the development of new utilization concepts which can be applied on the basis of changed consumption patterns characterized by sharing and borrowing and which can contribute to an increase in resource efficiency.