The youth debate organised at Warsaw University of Technology was the fourth of seven planned events of the European Youth Debating Competition, organised by the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and PlasticsEurope. Three winners of the debate: from Warsaw and Lublin will represent Poland at the European Finals to be held in Berlin at the beginning of October, during the 51st EPCA Annual Meeting.

The faculty of Chemistry at Warsaw University of Technology hosted young people from 11 secondary schools from all over Poland who discussed the crucial role that petrochemistry and plastics play in the digital age. The participants had the opportunity to debate on issues that are of high importance for the young generation: why petrochemistry is so important for today’s life and how plastics contribute to climate protection and sustainability. Students pointed out how indispensable and commonly used petrochemistry and plastic products are in areas such as transport, medicine, construction and packaging. They also discussed the challenges related to environmental issues, e.g. waste and littering habits with the development of better individual accountability and waste management systems.

The three winners of the Polish debate are:

1. Wiktor Skowroński, Niepubliczne Liceum Ogólnokształcące nr 40 w Warszawie 
2. Kalina Spławska, XIV LO im. Stanisława Staszica (Warsaw)
3. Michalina Groszyk, Zespół Szkół Chemicznych i Przemysłu Chemicznego (Lublin)

They all won a ticket to the European Finals in Berlin, as part of the 51st EPCA Annual Meeting, where they will discuss and debate with other young winners from Europe on the theme: "People Planet, Profit in the Digital Age: With or without petrochemistry and plastics?”. 

The main objective of the European Youth Debating Competition – a joint project organised by EPCA and PlasticsEurope – is to promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the soft skills among young people that will help them in their future careers. All the debates organised in Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and the UK including the final debate in Berlin follow the same standardized formula and all students will be assessed according to the same criteria.

Kazimierz Borkowski, Managing Director of PlasticsEurope Polska underlined: "In this year’s edition of the EYDC we have participants from all over Poland – some students decided to travel over 500km to Warsaw. It proves that this project engages young people not only because of important issues it touches upon but also because it gives students a unique opportunity to participate in professional coaching on public speaking. All participants, not only the winners, will benefit from this debating experience in their future.”

Stanisław Barański, Strategy and Project management area of PKN Orlen, member of the Young EPCA Think Tank (YETT) and pro-speaker: "It was surprisingly exciting to be a juror of the Polish qualifications to the European EYDC Finals. Students were very involved in the EYDC and the debate was full of the spirit of (fair) competition. Despite the fact that participants were mostly excited by the debate itself, my impression was they were really interested in the future of petrochemistry and the environment.”

Nathalie Debuyst representing EPCA during the Polish edition of the EYDC: "I’m really glad that young people can discuss this topic with such passion. It shows that they are seriously thinking about their future. I hope that debating in Berlin with young people from other European countries, as well as through their interactions with representatives of our industry, will show them how much we all have in common and how much can be achieved by working together.”  

Editor’s Note:  
EPCA and PlasticsEurope have launched a new series of the European Youth Debating Competition ( targeting young students aged 16 to 19, throughout Europe. The main objectives of the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC) and its organisers from the petrochemical and plastics industry are to promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), to empower students with soft skills and to encourage them to further discover and exchange on the contribution of petrochemistry and plastics in the digital age. Whilst for industry, it is an opportunity to listen to the views and expectations of the next generation of leaders. Technological dimensions of this new era with sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, smart living, societal wellbeing, are key ingredients for the future of both industry sectors and the overall competitiveness of the EU. 

The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) 

Based in Brussels, EPCA is the quality network in Europe for the global chemical business community consisting of chemical producers, their suppliers, customers and service providers. It operates for and through more than 700 member companies from 54 different countries. EPCA provides a platform to meet, exchange information and transfer learning, and serves as a think tank for its members and stakeholders. EPCA promotes STEM education, with a clear focus on gender and diversity inclusion. EPCA also highlight the multidisciplinary approach and the variety of challenging career paths that the chemical industry offers.

PlasticsEurope is one of the leading European trade associations with centres in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris. The association is networking with European and national plastics associations and has more than 100 member companies, producing over 90% of all polymers across the EU28 member states plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.