13 October 2008 - Young people in the EU Parliament demand rethinking of energy questions

100 students from 10 European cities debated in Brussels

Žan Žveplan from Slovenia is the winner of this weekend’s grand final of the European Youth Parliaments. The jury selected him among 100 other participants for his strong arguments and clear, convincing way of expressing himself.

The series of 10 national-level Youth Parliament Debates, held throughout Europe in the course of 2007/2008, ended in the Brussels European Parliament. With the support of PlasticsEurope and under the patronage of the president of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering, students from eight European countries had an exciting battle of strong opinions and quick wits on energy, climate protection and the contribution of plastics to those topics.

As explained by Martin Pugh - Vice-President of PlasticsEurope - while he welcomed the participants, the plastics industry is organising such debates to engage young people in climate change issues and inspire them to take action. The importance of discussing such topic was also underlined by Martin Wessels, parliamentary assistant to Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Ray Hammond, renowned Futurologist and author of the book “The world in 2030” opened the debate for the pro side and presented his arguments on the future importance of plastics. “Plastics have a central role to play in fighting climate crisis”, Mr Hammond said, “Almost all technologic development in renewable energy is made possible through plastics”. British journalist David Gow from the Guardian set the tone for the con fraction, talking about problems such as waste treatment and recycling.

During two hour, resource efficiency, sustainability and the present and future impact of plastics were extensively debated. The material’s role in packaging, transportation, medicine and communication applications was acknowledged by both fractions. One of the central points of the debate was the idea that plastic products are too valuable to be simply thrown away after use.

The jury included the president of the debate, Susanne Hester, Martin Pugh, Ray Hammond, David Gow, Martin Wessels and Stefania Consenti from Italian newspaper Il Giorno. Apart from Žan Žveplan, a further Top Ten of Europe’s young debaters were elected, including six girls and four boys. All eight countries present were represented in this group.

At the closing of the debate, Wilfried Haensel, Director-General of PlasticsEurope, expressed his satisfaction in this series of Youth Parliaments. “I am surprised in a very positive way at how proactive and with how much knowledge the students discussed. It was a good decision to do these debates. I take it as a compliment for our work that the role plastics play as enablers of energy efficiency was well understood.”

During the national Youth Parliaments, 1.000 students competed in ten cities (Berlin, Ljubljana, London, Lyon, Milan, Nantes, Paris, Stockholm, Warsaw and Zagreb). Only the best debaters from each country received an invitation to the Brussels final.

Word document of Press release

Editors' note:

PlasticsEurope is one of the leading European trade associations with centers in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris. We are networking with European and national plastics associations and have more than 100 member companies, producing over 90% of all polymers across the EU27 member states plus Norway, Switzerland, Croatia and Turkey.

The European plastics industry makes a significant contribution to the welfare in Europe by enabling innovation, creating quality of life to citizens and facilitating resource efficiency and climate protection. More than 1.6 million people are working in about 50.000 companies (mainly small and medium sized companies in the converting sector) to create a turnover in excess of 280 billion € per year.

The plastics industry includes polymer producers - represented by PlasticsEurope, converters - represented by EuPC and machine manufacturers - represented by EUROMAP. For further info see the web links: www.plasticseurope.org, www.plasticsconverters.eu, www.euromap.org