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International 2012 Materials Education Symposium

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Tackling Sustainability Issues in Polymer Science Education

Prof Anke Nellesen | Bochum University of Applied Sciences

Tackling Sustainability Issues in Polymer Science Education

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In the near future it will be essential to acquaint the students of each discipline with related sustainability issues. In materials science this means to teach the students how to calculate the CO2-emissions of a material, how to ensure that resources needed to produce a certain material are big enough and/ or renewable. In polymer science it also is necessary to show different options for the end-of-life for a material: is it reasonable to enhance a material's durability or would it be a good alternative to use a biodegradable material to reduce waste. Another important issue is to discuss not only the basic polymer with the students but also the further chemicals needed to use a certain polymer as these ingredients are sometimes more problematic for the environment than it is the basic polymer. The lecture will present some examples how to introduce these issues in student's education. It will be shown how to implement tools for life-cycle assessment and how to set up a discussion with the students concerning sustainable development and the resulting consequences for their professional life. Here it is of utmost importance that not only problems are discussed but possible solutions are presented.