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Youngsters debating our future with or without petrochemistry and plastics

Ilsu Ari from Lycée Les Pontonniers in Strasbourg, winner of the French National Finals of the “European Youth Debating Competition“

EPCA and PlasticsEurope organise for the second year in a row the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC).

The French National Finals in Paris has gathered over 70 students from all over the country at this year’s edition of the European Youth Debating Competition, a joint project between the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and PlasticsEurope. The debating competition is a multifaceted initiative that involves students aged between 16 and 19 years, who joined from Paris, Bordeaux and Strasbourg to discuss the theme "People, Planet, Profit in the Digital Age: With or without Petrochemistry and Plastics?”.

Three young debaters have been selected to represent France at the European Finals to be held in Berlin on Sunday 1st October, during the 51st EPCA Annual Meeting, the largest gathering of the global chemical business community in Europe.

They have discussed the role of petrochemical products in our daily lives especially through key applications such as computers, sportswear and innovative plastics used in both modern medicine and renewable energy. They also underlined the side-effects of our society’s consumerism, and the need for a change in our behaviour to better re-use and recycle products. Furthermore, they have concentrated on issues that are of high importance to them, the young generation: How interconnected will we live tomorrow? What kind of education is required to be successful in this new digital age? How are society, environment and the economy affected by the digital revolution?

During the debate, the participants were divided into fixed speakers with pro and con factions, and free speakers having the possibility to argue from any position. Moreover, participants and members of the audience were encouraged to show how convinced they were of the speeches and arguments, by displaying green or red ballot cards, thereby ensuring an interactive and enjoyable debate.

The 5 members of the jury composed of representatives from the petrochemical and plastics industry, academia and media representatives, analysed the young debaters’ performances based on their knowledge, ability to express themselves and interact with each other.

Ms. Nina Miolane, one of the thirty promising young researchers recognised by UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation in 2016. She was awarded a “Women in Science” Fellowship for her virtual patient research in the category “Exploring the brain, a new world to conquer”. She joined the debates as a member of the jury as well as a pro-speaker, who began the debates with a short presentation.

She shared her views and experiences of the role between science and society: "I realized that even if I loved math, I wanted to apply it to something that could have a direct impact on society. So I left theoretical physics and transferred my knowledge in math to medical imaging. I use the same mathematics that I used to describe black holes to now model brain shapes."

Caroline Ciuciu, CEO of EPCA and member of the jury added: “This competition is a unique opportunity for students of a generation of digital natives, to further explore the links between our society’s development, sciences and the petrochemical industry. In addition, in a fast changing and sometimes divisive environment, this debating competition offers youngsters the chance to interact with each other regardless of gender, nationality and culture. Finally, for us as an industry, the EYDC is an excellent initiative to connect with a new generation, listen and learn about their views as well as their visions of our future. In a nutshell, it is a way to connect, listen, learn, collaborate for both the youngsters and our industry.”

We look forward to meeting the finalists of all the seven National Finals - France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK - at the European Finals!

About EYDC

EPCA and PlasticsEurope have launched a new series of the European Youth Debating Competition ( targeting young students aged 16 to 19, throughout Europe. The main objectives of the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC) and its organisers from the petrochemical and plastics industry, are: to promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), to empower students with soft skills and to encourage them to further discover and exchange on the contribution of petrochemistry and plastics in the digital age. Whilst for industry, it is an opportunity to listen to the views and expectations of the next generation of leaders. Technological dimensions of this new era with sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, smart living, societal wellbeing, are key ingredients for the future of both industry sectors and the overall competitiveness of the EU.

The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA)

Based in Brussels, EPCA is the quality network in Europe for the global chemical business community consisting of chemical producers, their suppliers, customers and service providers. It operates for and through more than 700 member companies from 54 different countries. EPCA provides a platform to meet, exchange information and transfer learning, and serves as a think tank for its members and stakeholders. EPCA promotes STEM education, with a clear focus on gender and diversity inclusion. EPCA also highlights the multidisciplinary approach and the variety of challenging career paths that the chemical industry offers.


PlasticsEurope is one of the leading European trade associations with centres in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris. The association is networking with European and national plastics associations and has more than 100 member companies, producing over 90% of all polymers across the EU28 member states plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. 

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The three winners of the French National EYDC Finals.

From left to right: 3rd place winner Arnav Aggarwal; 1st place winner Ari Ilsu and; 2nd place winner Nick Krüger

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Press contacts

Press Contacts


Nathalie Debuyst                                                            

Communication and Education Manager

Phone: +32 (2) 741 86 66

PlasticsEurope AISBL

Nuria Buezas                                                                                  

Communications and Media Manager

Phone: +32 (2) 676 17 57

Photographer: Gilles Petipas