The winners of the 2016 European Plastics Innovation Awards were announced on Wednesday, and included several products that boast superior environmental performance. The expert jury, made up of both academics and industry professionals, evaluated 37 submissions and selected 7 winners and 5 runners-up. Biobased and lightweight materials were in the spotlight.
"The plastics industry is at the forefront of innovation in Europe. With one out of 25 patents coming from the industry, plastics are at the heart of many of today’s technological advances. Ongoing investment in innovation is essential if we want to tackle some of the major challenges Europe is facing today,” Patrick Thomas, the President of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Covestro, told the event’s 200 guests.
The challenges that the industry faces, such as economic losses due to the lack of adequate waste management and marine litter, were acknowledged by Kurt Vandenberghe, the Director for Climate Action and Resource Efficiency at the European Commission, in his opening remarks. “So, we’re in trouble,” he said. “We must harness the power of innovation so that plastic is part of the solution, and not just the problem.”
A recent report from the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging – worth $80-120 billion annually – is being lost to the economy.
The speakers implied that the winners are addressing these social and environmental concerns through their designs and engineering. The winners were as follows:
- Best Plastic Design – DSM Engineering Plastics, a company based in the Netherlands, received the award for the use of its biobased polyamide EcoPaXX in the high performance edging chassis of a Salomon mountaineering shoe. EcoPaXX allowed for the proper balance of flexibility and rigidity, retains its properties at low temperatures typical of mountain climes, and has reduced moisture uptake. It is also certified as carbon neutral from cradle to gate.
Willem De Vos, the CEO of the Society of Plastics Engineers and the presenter of the awards, said, “What was remarkable was the fact that all entries were the result of collaboration, for example between a polymer manufacturer, or processor, tool manufacturer, equipment manufacturer — not one product was from a single company.”