The Student Plastics Challenge - 9 Hours of Innovative CSR

By holding a student challenge, the LIT OIC and "Teach for Austria" sought to draw attention to the importance of sustainability.

The Challenge participants; Photo credit: Fotosisa
The Challenge participants; Photo credit: Fotosisa

As sustainability is one of the most important challenges that we, as a society, face, "Teach for Austria" and the LIT Open Innovation Center came together to draw attention to the issue by organizing a student challenge together with companies in the plastics industry. Challenge donors included ENGEL, EREMA, GREINER, and NGR Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen.

Before the event, students in various majors, such as Management in Polymer Technologies, Management in Chemical Technologies, Legal and Business Aspects in Technics, Polymer Engineering Technologies (BA), and Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (BA), explored the topic from several angles as part of the university course "Management and Marketing" taught by Dr. Christiane Steinlechner (Institute HAM, JKU). They also discussed legal regulations at a national and international level, ESG criteria assessment, a company's obligation to incorporate "sustainability" into the added value responsibly, and how to communicate on the topic devoid of greenwashing.

Maria Buchmayr (Office of Sustainability at the JKU) represented the university and provided information about the JKU's four pillars of sustainability. Vice-Rector Stefan Koch emphasized just how important the Challenge is and remarked: "The Student Plastics Challenge is a unique event in which students are called upon to competitively apply what they have learned in the classroom and use problem-solving approaches; it is incredibly motivating to watch."

A group of students who accepted the NGR's challenge to evaluate and depict plastics from a holistic and social perspective won the Student Plastics Challenge. The students pitched the solutions as part of a creative skit under the tagline "Bye-Bye Plastics - Buy Plastics".