“Planet or Plastics” was the provocative title of the June 2018 National Geographic issue. The visuals and articles showed the massive impact of plastics – both positive and mostly negative – on planet Earth and all people, and implicitly suggested humanity needed to make a Solomon’s judgement on the faith of society. A world of 7.6 billion inhabitants cannot function anymore without plastics but each world citizen will need to face and take part in changing the ways plastics are produced, used and re-used in a circular, sustainable way.
The 3rd Edition of the Plastics Update Conference organized by the Plastics Innovation Competence Center (PICC) in Fribourg (CH) looks forward into the future on what can be done today to address the challenges of a circular plastics economy.
International experts highlight three themes that enable innovation towards sustainable solutions for plastics – Digitalisation, Circularity, and Hybridisation.
Digitalisation is about how the latest information and computational technology (ICT), including big data and artificial intelligence, impacts innovation for companies. It is illustrated by applying ICT for business innovation and materials modelling i.e. how all the “tools” to explore and simulate business models and innovative materials can be made available for use in a Marketplace. An example is presented on how such tools can be used to explore solutions that address critical and massive food waste in packaging.
Circularity entails three aspects: How can existing plastic products after-use preserve their value; What lessons can be learned from the plastics of nature (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids); Using nature’s plastic products sources such as milk. Key insights are being highlighted in the presentations.
Hybridisation encompasses multiple aspects of using plastics in technical applications (ceramics) as well as enabling more environmentally appropriate functionalization (atmospheric plasma technology), and the analytical characterization challenges innovation brings. The latest developments in each of these areas is illustrated.
The presented thematic and topical subjects form an integral part of all research and innovation that leads towards a system thinking approach for making a nature-inspired circular economy possible. The 3rd Plastics Update Conference informs on state-of-the-art thinking and proposes technology that can make a difference to transform industry and engage ensuring humanity can continue to enjoy the benefits of planet and plastics in a sustainable way.
Prof. Dr. Rudy Koopmans
15 November 2018 - Fribourg