Plastics: A Key Role in Climate Protection and Sustainable Development

Are sustainable plastics even possible? Prof. Reinhold Lang provided a clear answer at the SET-Plan conference.

Professor Lang bei Rede am Pult

Polymers are currently making negative headlines. Sea turtles are being found with plastic waste in their stomachs and the oceans are considered contaminated by islands of plastic waste. Prof. Lang, head of the Institute of Polymeric Materials and Testing at the JKU, is a leading expert in the development of environmentally-friendly use and recycling of plastics. He considers the demand to “get rid of plastic” to be completely unrealistic. Above all: it’s not necessary. At the SET-Plan Conference 2018: Research and Innovation Driving the Energy Transition to 2050, the JKU researcher remarked, “Our goal is the environmentally friendly and sustainable use of plastics. We want to make plastics the key material in energy transition and sustainable economic development.”

Whether in solar technology, using renewable energy or photovoltaics or in everyday use: plastics have become indispensable. Prof. Lang added, “It is important to further develop it and use it more responsibly. In the future, the sectoral coupling of energy and material management will be important when it comes to the direction of new carbon management which is more focused on a carbon cycle.”

The conference focuses on the EU’s environmental, research and energy management. According to forecasts, 25% of the EU budget will go toward environmental and climate protection in the medium-term.