Prof. Maik Feldmann, head of the Polymer Applications business unit, Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS
What interests you personally the most about plastics?
The diversity. For a start, plastic is a material that makes our everyday lives easier − often more so than we realize. And plastics can be used in areas of construction where metal wouldn’t be as efficient. For example, a plastic-based pressure tank for hydrogen weighs only a quarter as much as a metal one with the same storage capacity.
Which trend regarding plastics and sustainability is making you particularly optimistic?
There are two statistics I’m especially optimistic about. The statistic on the bioplastic market from European Bioplastics e. V. shows a significant trend toward biobased plastics. And the numbers from the German Environment Agency (UBA) on material recycling are showing growth there as well; both of these situations are creating exciting avenues of research for us. The global waste issue, greater numbers of environmental laws and rising levels of environmental consciousness among consumers are all sure to strengthen this trend further.
What makes a “good” plastic, in your opinion?
A good plastic is one that is ideally suited to the requirements it must fulfill for processing and use, and that makes a durable product while creating the smallest possible carbon footprint. The design and processing methods for the material must be matched to its properties. The raw materials you choose are also important. Ideally, residual or waste materials should be used here.