Karel Van Acker

Professor in Circular Economy at KU Leuven
Karel Van Acker is professor in Circular Economy at KU Leuven with a joint mandate at the department of Materials Engineering (faculty of Engineering Sciences) and at the Center for Economics and Corporate Sustainability (faculty of Business and Economics). His research is on developing strategies to realize the circular economy (CE) and on sustainability assessments of these CE strategies, including among others recycling, materials substitution, sharing economy. Karel holds a PhD in Materials Science and has been for 12 years coordinator of the KU Leuven Materials Research Center (more than 500 researchers). He also leads the policy research center “Circular economy” for the Flemish government and currently is the chairman of the Sustainability Council of KU Leuven.
Circular economy is put forward by companies and politicians as the way to go to mitigate the stress on resources and on the environment due to the production and end-of-life of ICT. Circular economy starts from the idea to keep resources and materials as long as possible in the economy. There are however many ways to achieve this. What circular economy can mean for ICT, and what strategies can be followed to realize circular ICT will be discussed in this talk. Special focus will be on the effect of new circular business models, such as repairing, sharing, product service systems. Not all strategies have equal impacts, nor need equal investments. It is however clear the potential of these business models is huge, but still under-exploited.