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Youngsters passionately debate on our future with petrochemistry and plastic

When youngsters debate each other, they do it passionately – and this is the way they did at the German National Finals of the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC). The event has been organised for the second year in a row by the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and PlasticsEurope. In the „Rheinisches Landestheater“ in Neuss, 50 youngsters aged between 16 and 19 openly from all over Germany, emotionally but also critically, debated the theme: "People, Planet, Profit in the Digital Age: With or without petrochemistry and plastics?” They discussed the role of petrochemical products in our daily lives such as computers, sportswear and innovative plastics used in both modern medicine and renewable energy, but also 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 concentrated on issues that are of high importance to them, the young generation: How interconnected will we live tomorrow? What does the digital age mean for the workplaces of the future? What kind of education is required to be successful in this new digital age?

The points brought up, perfectly reflected the idea of the EYDC initiative – to develop an interest amongst youngsters in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) topics and stir the exchange between youth and industry. After the German event, six more National Finals will follow: in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK. The winners from each National Final will qualify for the European Finals to be held in Berlin on the 1st of October in the framework of the 51st EPCA Annual Meeting, gathering several thousand participants from the global chemical business community.

In Neuss, the three winners Henning Locher, Anne Rother and Daniel Ternes were very happy and enthusiastic about qualifying to the European Finals. It was no easy task for the jury members to select the winners as the youngsters delivered passionate, well-informed, compelling arguments and counter-arguments between each other. During the morning of the Finals, all participants received professional coaching and training in presentation techniques and body language by experienced trainers. Dr Josef Ertl, president of PlasticsEurope Deutschland, had taken over the task to set the scene as a pro speaker. He outlined why petrochemistry is so important for today`s life and how plastics are contributing to climate protection and sustainability. As a con speaker, Lukas Schaal, who once participated in former youth debating competitions, called for the development of better waste management systems in Europe and more individual accountability by minimising consumption. Henning Locher, Anne Rother and Daniel Ternes managed to convince the jury, consisting of representatives of industry, media, EPCA and PlasticsEurope, with their impressive performances and will be the ones to represent Germany in the European Finals in Berlin.

Dr Oliver Feldmann, Business Manager at BASF, member of the Young EPCA Think Tank (YETT), and member of the jury, was deeply impressed by the knowledge and passionate engagement of the youngsters: “Overall, I feel honoured to have the possibility to meet so many talented young people. This competition is a perfect chance for all of us to set up a dialogue and learn from each other and I was very surprised with how well informed the youngsters are and how concentrated they followed their lines of argument.”

Nathalie Debuyst, Communication & Education Manager of EPCA, and a member of the jury was delighted with her experience: “It is a pleasure to be part of this competition which gives us an opportunity to connect with a new generation, listening and learning about their views and expectations of our future. I witnessed an engaging debate amongst digital natives who expressed an understanding of society’s development and needs, and the contribution of science, petrochemistry and plastics. I look forward to the second EYDC national finals in Spain.” The next of the EYDC National Finals takes place in Tarragona, Spain on the 11th of May 2017.

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 highlight 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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German EYDC 2017 winners

The three winners of the German National EYDC Final Henning Locher (1st place), Anne Rother (2nd place) and Daniel Ternes (3rd place), Neuss, 29th April 2017

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