“Times are changing”. This trips lightly off the tongue. Challenges are changing, and thus priorities and perspectives. Is our industry still or already up-to-date in terms of technology, sustainability and environmental policy?
Engineers and technicians are driven to turn challenges and make things better. But what does “better” mean? What are the decision criteria? Technologically, our industry has always been at the highest level, in tune with the times. The industry has developed phenomenally in every single process step. Digitization will boost further development.
The world is challenged: climate protection, resource conservation, energy saving on the one hand, and population growth on the other. If they did not exist, plastics would have to be invented today, because they offer the opportunity to meet these challenges. I dare say that today Hermann Staudinger, as in 1953, would receive the Nobel Prize for his discoveries in the field of macromolecular chemistry, the basis of plastics chemistry.
And yet, in the face of littering, we have to ask ourselves: have we thought that through? Could we have prevented that the problems at the end of the process chain came as a surprise to us? I feel like meeting the limits of our abilities. This does not apply to the technical questions because the solutions are available.
Due to negligence, PET, in my view, is still in a dilemma. PET literally gets lost in the totality of plastic waste. So far, our industry has not succeeded in pioneering the differentiation and marketing of the special status and special recycling possibilities of polyesters in terms of environmental policy and in bringing them closer to the consumer.
In this issue you will encounter a number of examples of responsible, solution- and future-oriented engineering thinking. We have options to take our actions to the next level and, in everything we do, consider the impact on the environment, on our children’s.