Circular Plastics Action Plan Conference

On the 22nd and the 24th of January, ARA Innovation Space collected a team of students from the fields of design, environmental sciences or business and organised a Circular Plastics Action Plan Conference, which included an excursion to Linz and a day of workshops in the ZIMMER.

During the trip, the team visited Borealis, a manufacturer of base chemicals, polyolefins and fertilizers, elements used widely in our everyday lives. The company prides itself with a scientific approach, putting a lot of value in research, ensuring safety, lightness, adaptability and affordability of their products at the same time closely monitoring their energy imprint and impact on the fields of infrastructure, engineering and climate. The second location, Walter Recycling Plant, focused on the collection and recycling of waste disposal (of both residential and commercial clients) and converting them into a secondary resource.

Between the two site visits, the group of students attended a lecture by Reinhold W. Lang from the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, who discussed the ‘Global Change and Challenges; Role and Contribution of Polymeric Materials’. His talk truly explained the chemical and physical properties of plastics and how they are affecting the environment, but also the underlying issues of waste management and plastic production such as food industry, sanitation, academia and forced displacement. The team was honoured to be a part of his survey regarding our hopes and expectations for the future and together discoursed over the meaning and significance of the doomsday clock, sustainable development, shared prosperity and inclusive welfare.

The attendees of the conference met again on the 24th in order to put all their theoretical knowledge into practice. The second part of the conference, moderated by Harald Pilz, was aimed at creating an action plan, which would contribute some innovative insights and ideas into targeting the issue of plastics recycling and production. The agenda was composed of a short presentation by Denkstatt, a series of roundtable discussions and a debate with Christoph Scharff (ARA), Heinz Schratt (Plastics Europe), Manfred Tacker (FH Campus Wien) and Michael Krainz (OFI). During the roundtable discussions the participants shared their concepts relating to fields of action (durable goods, packaging, renewable circle and product design) as well as the opportunities and challenges related to the value chain (processors, clients, retail, manufacturers, waste management and politics). The devised inputs were then presented to the guests during debate time and interesting questions were raised regarding the general understanding of the environmental and social impact of plastics.