Currently, the new marketing campaign of the TUHH, especially via its social media channels, is running massively. In the course of this, the Technical University of Hamburg announced that it "[...] together with Hamburg's environmental partners Unilever, Veolia, Budnikowsky and Stadtreinigung [...] is currently working on a project [that] paves the way [for] Hamburg's recyclables initiative. The goal is to produce a bottle entirely from recycled plastic waste" [1].

The Student Parliament (StuPa) and the General Student Committee (AStA) of the TUHH criticize the cooperation of the TUHH with Unilever and Veolia, as well as the portrayal of the TUHH in the contributions of the campaign and demand that the TUHH, if a cooperation with the companies cannot be avoided, at least refrain from advertising with and for these companies and in the future prioritize cooperation with sustainable companies.

Anyone who advertises sustainability must also live sustainability

"TUHH is a competitive, family-oriented and sustainable university with high performance and quality standards that strives for research excellence in basic research and its fields of competence" is how TUHH describes itself [2].

One of the three fields of competence of the TUHH is Green Technologies [2]. For the winter semester 2020/ 21, the study programs Bioprocess Engineering, Energy and Environmental Engineering, as well as Process Engineering are advertised as explicitly sustainable study programs. Even in the Electrical Engineering and Shipbuilding degree programs, TUHH distinguishes sustainable content, which is de facto not part of the degree program [3]. The cooperation with Fridays for Future is also promoted on Instagram and students are invited to become "Doers for the energy transition" [4].

In principle, we very much welcome a commitment to sustainability and a corresponding self-image. However, anyone who advertises sustainability and presents it as the core of research and study must actually live it. As members of the university, the current self-portrayal of the TUHH shows us a serious Janus-facedness.

Despite the focus on sustainability in the advertising campaign, the TUHH works together with companies that demonstrably do not act sustainably, such as Unilever and Veolia. Despite the advertising campaign being geared towards prospective students who care about sustainability, the degree programs advertised have few to no modules in which sustainability is actually addressed.

Unilever linked to catastrophic fires in Indonesia and mercury poisoning in India

Unilever is one of the world's leading consumer goods manufacturers and has promised by 2020 to refrain from further rainforest destruction in palm oil extraction. However, this promise turned out to be an empty promise in the meantime, because Unilever still buys "palm oil from plantations that are under investigation in connection with this year's fires as well as the fires of previous years" Unilever still purchases palm oil from 20 areas on which palm oil cultivation, due to the investigations, was banned by the Indonesian government [5].

In addition, glass contaminated with mercury from thermometer production in India was not disposed of properly. Disposal did not take place until a year after the scandal was uncovered. "The former workers say they are still waiting for compensation. They were not given protective clothing at the time and were not informed about the toxic substance they were handling. They and their children are still suffering from the health consequences of mercury exposure today" [6].

Veolia sells basic rights on a grand scale and pollutes the environment with waste

Veolia earns half of its annual revenue from drinking water supply and wastewater treatment and has come under criticism for expensive water prices, lack of sewer maintenance, corruption, unauthorized party financing, and overly close ties with politics [7].

Veolia's subsidiary SEEG had a contract with the Gabonese government to develop the water supply in Gabon. However, the company was expropriated by the Gabonese government after massive environmental damage was found on the company's premises [8] [9].

A lawsuit was also filed against Veolia in the USA. The city of Flint had commissioned the company to test the quality of its drinking water. The residents of the city accuse the company of knowingly concealing the toxic lead content of the water and of having declared the drinking water to be safe despite the danger to the residents [10].

Veolia is also involved in illegal waste disposal scandals. For example, they did not properly dispose of contaminated waste from a vehicle plant and were subsequently fined €200,000. In 2012, they also disposed of 900,000 tons of household waste in an unsuitable storage facility. In doing so, they knowingly accepted massive environmental damage in order to save €30 million on disposal. In the subsequent court case, they got away with a fine of €7.5 million in a settlement [11] [12].

The deceptive marketing campaign cannot go on like this

From our subjective perspective, it is not to be welcomed that the TUHH, in the sense of a pragmatic dual-use conviction, also relies on cooperations with sustainably and morally at least questionable companies in order to finance the research of sustainable technologies and renounces ethical and sustainable study contents in your study programs in favor of a technical education. Nevertheless, this is initially a debatable position, which is increasingly changing in recent years -so much must be emphasized quite positively. But to live extensively from sustainability in research and education cannot be spoken at least at the present time. Therefore, the current advertising campaign seems hypocritical to us and, in the context of the information character for prospective students, simply represents misinformation. Those who come to the TUHH with the understanding that they will learn something concrete about sustainability, experience it as an integral part of knowledge and competence transfer, and find a culture of sustainable and progressive thinking and acting, will probably experience a bitter disappointment. This is not only not to be welcomed by us, but not to be accepted. Therefore, we call upon the responsible parties to focus on the real competencies of the TUHH in their external presentation and not to draw a picture that is contrary to the factual reality, which a brief discussion with their cooperation partners and, at the latest, the start of a study program at the TUHH effortlessly exposes.


  1. Umwelt Partnerschaft Hamburg (UPHH), „Aus Hamburg für Hamburg: vollständig recycelte Flasche kommt,“ Behörde für Umwelt, Klima, Energie und Agrarwirtschaft – Hansestadt Hamburg, 11 August 2020. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 August 2020].
  2. P. D. E. Brinksma, „TUHH Broschüre – Technische Universität Hamburg,“ März 2018. [Online]. Available:
    [Zugriff am 11 August 2020].
  3. Tehnische Universität Hamburg, „Studien- und Prüfungsordnungen,“ [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 11 08 2020].
  4. Technische Universität Hamburg, „Instagram TUHH,“ Instagram, [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 11 08 2020].
  5. Greenpeace, „VERSPRECHEN IN RAUCH AUFGELÖST,“ Greenpeace, [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 11 08 2020].
  6. K. Langhans, „Rappen gegen Unilever,“ Süddeutsche Zeitung, 05 08 2015. [Online]. Available:
    [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].
  7. Deutschlandfunk, „Frankreichs umstrittener Wasser-Riese,“ Deutschlandfunk, [Online]. Available:,enge%20Verflechtungen%20mit%20der%20Politik. [Zugriff am 11 08 2020].
  8. Eil d’afrique, „Le Gabon accuse Veolia de pollution,“ Eil d’afrique, 27 02 2018. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].[9]L’Usine Nouvelle, „Veolia accusée de pollution par le Gabon,“ L’Usine Nouvelle, 28 02 2018. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].
  9. B. Klayman, „MÄRKTE 10-Vorwürfe in US-Wasserskandal setzen Veolia unter Druck,“ reuters, 16 06 2016. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].
  10. J. Lüdeking, „Umweltskandal: Ex-Manager aus Herford in Stendal vor Gericht,“ neue westfälische, 29 04 2016. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].
  11. Handelsblatt, „Umweltskandal belastet Veolia,“ Handelsblatt, 02 06 2014. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].
  12., „UNILEVERS QUECKSILBRIGES ERBE,“, 03 09 2004. [Online]. Available: [Zugriff am 14 08 2020].