The Johannes Kepler University Linz is Austria's First Circular University

Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA) and the JKU are driving the Austrian circular economy forward by creating the "Circular University" program.

From left: Harald Hauke (ARA Executive Board), Meinhard Lukas (JKU Rector), Herbert Bauer (general manager Coca-Cola HBC Austria), Maria Buchmayr (JKU Office of Sustainability), Monika Dobreva (ARA Waste Management)
From left: Harald Hauke (ARA Executive Board), Meinhard Lukas (JKU Rector), Herbert Bauer (general manager Coca-Cola HBC Austria), Maria Buchmayr (JKU Office of Sustainability), Monika Dobreva (ARA Waste Management)

The JKU aims to usher in a new era of waste management on campus by implementing an effective campus-wide recycling program.

ARA and the JKU are joining forces to protect the climate and conserve resources by kicking off the summer with a forward-thinking campus recycling and waste management program. Separating recyclable waste on campus will also contribute to attaining EU recycling targets. ARA CEO Harald Hauke remarked: "This collaboration effort is not only innovative but raises awareness as well. Our goals include obtaining as much recyclable material as possible in order to support a successful long-term waste management program at the JKU. The program also shows students and employees just how important each individual’s contribution to a successful circular economy is. This program at the JKU is a pioneering pilot program and ultimately we aim to implement similar programs at as many Austrian universities as we can." The potential is there as currently, approximately 275,000 students are enrolled at over 70 universities and universities of applied sciences in Austria. The JKU has approximately 22,000 enrolled students and 3,600 employees.

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas added: "As a university, we have a great responsibility when it comes to the way we treat our environment and handle our resources. Waste can be a valuable raw material and in the spirit of the circular economy, recycling plays a key role. Careful waste management coupled with innovative recycling technologies, such as the kind we are currently researching at the LIT Factory, are important when it comes to creating a more sustainable future."

Smart Solar-Powered Waste Bins and Creating Awareness about Recycling
As part of the collaboration with ARA, the program includes placing more waste collection bins around campus, providing color-coded bins to help separate waste and improve waste transport and cleaning logistics, and placing digital, solar-powered ‘smart’ waste bins in outdoor areas. Solar-powered waste bins called "BigBelly", for example, send automated e-mail notifications in regard to capacity and also shows the intervals when last emptied.

In order for the program to be effective, most people need to be on board. The JKU is planning an awareness campaign that will publicize information about the waste management program using various internal and external channels.

Maria Buchmayr (JKU Office of Sustainability) stated, "I am happy that the Circular University program will serve as an important step towards a future-oriented way of managing waste at the JKU. This is an important resource-saving element when it comes to supporting a circular economy."

Enthusiastic Support by Businesses: Collaboration with Coca-Cola
Strong partners, such as Coca-Cola HBC Austria, are committed to creating additional awareness. Herbert Bauer, general manager of Coca-Cola HBC Austria, commented: "In the spirit of our ‘world without waste’ program, by 2030 we aim to recover all our packaging. Collected PET plastics are an important recyclable material that allow us to produce new bottles. Consumers, however, must dispose of their beverage packaging properly. Programs such as a Circular University are important steps in this direction." For many years now, Coca-Cola HBC has been committed to using recycled PET plastics. Since 2019, 100% recycled PET has been used as packaging for Römerquelle mineral water.

Sustainability at the JKU: Living Up to a Sense of Responsibility
The JKU strongly believes that supporting the sustainable use of resources is a natural part of the university’s social responsibility. The JKU supports additional sustainability programs on campus, including switching over to locally-sourced and organic food at the JKU cafeteria. Researchers, scientists and academics at the JKU also focus on sustainability issues and climate protection by conducting research in renewable energies, converting harmful CO2 into industrial-use alcohol, and implementing a recycling program and circular economy that will be tested at the LIT Factory on campus. The JKU’s on-campus Office for Sustainability is led by Maria Buchmayr and coordinates sustainability programs at the JKU., opens an external URL in a new window

About ARA

Future. Circular. Economy. Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA) has been a driving force in the Austrian waste and recycling industry for the past 30 years. ARA is a national market leader providing systems throughout Austria to sort and manage waste, recyclables, and oversee the disposal of old electrical equipment and batteries. ARA makes a total of approximately 1.91 million collection containers are available to consumers and an additional 1.78 million households collect recyclable plastic with the “Gelber Sack” program. ARA’s waste management and collection system is growing steadily and is very popular among residents in Austria. During 2020, households in Austria collected over 1.08 million tons of recyclable packaging and paper.

Along with its subsidiaries ARAplus Ltd, Austria Glass Recycling Ltd, DiGiDO Ltd and ERA Ltd, ARA today is considered a best practice example on an international level, working together with business partners to develop customized waste management solutions for both waste and recycling. ARA’s range of services extends from collection services, material flow and waste management to the ARA Circular Design aimed at pushing recycling management digitization. Owned by domestic companies as a non-profit organization, ARA AG serves over 15,000 customers.

About the JKU

Strongly rooted in the region but committed to supporting an international direction, the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU) is wholeheartedly committed to high quality research and education with a goal of becoming one of Europe’s top-rated universities. The JKU is a proven success story, progressing over its 50-year history from a college of social sciences, economics and business to one of Austria's largest academic institutions for research and education.

New findings by JKU researchers consistently contribute to existing areas of science, further deepening continual dialogue with the public, the local business community, and those involved in the arts & culture. The JKU not only focuses on the local and global challenges of our time in research and education, but also as part its third mission (science with and for society).

Today, JKU is a broadly positioned university with core expertise in technology (engineering, computer sciences, natural sciences), social sciences, business & economics, education, law, and medicine. The university’s values, visionary outlook, and interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary direction – particularly in regard to digitalization, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion - make the JKU predestined to take on the academic and scientific challenges of our time.

The JKU is continuing to set standards by, for example, creating Austria's first academic degree program in Artificial Intelligence, Medical Engineering, Austria's first medical degree program as part of a Bachelor’s/Master’s system as well as a test Bachelor’s degree in Law program. These programs demonstrate a desire and passion to continually critically question oneself and adjust research and education to fit the current times.

The campus’ newly enhanced modern infrastructure provides students, employees, and local residents with space to live, work, and play.

The JKU’s main aspiration is to support its students as well as researchers and contribute to a progressive future focusing on technologies that will serve the people and conserve the environment.