K 2013: Panel Discussion "Resources and Raw Materials"

... this was the core question of the panel discussion "Resources and Raw Materials " on 16 October at K 2013 in Dusseldorf, in the light of global megatrends such as an accelerating globalization and increasing urbanization.

Vinnolit CEO Dr Josef Ertl stated the position of the plastics industry as Chairman of PlasticsEurope Germany: "Without Plastics, a sustainable development that preserves the natural resources in the long term and provides a high level of prosperity with social participation for many people, is not feasible. We will achieve our ambitious climate targets only with a strong plastics industry because plastics is the material of energy efficiency. It allows to save a multiple of the energy in a variety of different applications as it is required for its production and processing. For example when we think of plastics for efficient insulation of buildings, for energy saving PVC window systems, for lightweight, high-performance packaging, for efficient, economical cars in lightweight construction or most modern aircrafts with up to 50 percent fiber composite. In the usage phase plastics also prove to be easy-care and usually require less maintenance costs than alternatives, for example when used for window systems, pipes or floors. And at the end of their product life they are recyclable.

However also the "dark side" of the success story of plastics was addressed by the discussants, such as the concentration of plastics waste in the oceans due to "Marine Littering". Again, the plastics industry positions itself clearly: "Plastics are too valuable to throw away". The widespread "throwaway mentality" is independent of the material. A basic prerequisite for the avoidance of Marine Litter consists in raising the social awareness for the protection of the environment and the value of waste as a resource, in combination with an efficient waste management. Therefore the plastics industry calls for an Europe-wide ban on landfill for plastics waste by 2020. The kind of recovery itself should then be based on sustainability criteria, ie in addition to the environmental it should also include economic and social aspects.

The participants of the panel discussion "Resources and Raw Materials": Dr Rüdiger Baunemann, Managing Director PlasticsEurope Germany; Dr Josef Ertl, Vinnolit CEO and Chairman of PlasticsEurope Germany; moderator Dr Hartmut Pflaum, Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT; Dr Dr Dietmar Wechsler, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy; Ministerialrätin Andrea Jünemann, Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (left to right) (Photo: PlasticsEurope Germany)