UTECH 2015: ISOPA showed the way to Product Stewardship & Sustainability

UTECH Europe 2015 – the leading international event for the polyurethanes industry – was held in Maastricht on April 14 -16. The event was once more a perfect opportunity for Isopa and its members to present their latest achievements and gain visibility towards a broader audience of international stakeholders.

ISOPA’s main objective was to ensure that exhibitors and visitors leave UTECH 2015 informed of ISOPA’s work and how it can contribute to help them meet their own objectives.

In order to achieve this, a stand was built in the conference center and a morning session was dedicated to ISOPA’s activities on the second day.

Jörg Palmersheim and Kristine Dewaele welcome visitors at ISOPA stand

Jörg Palmersheim and Kristine Dewaele welcome visitors at
ISOPA stand

ISOPA stand: The place to be at UTECH!

Pass the entrance door, turn right, walk for a minute, and there it was: the ISOPA’s stand! With its bright colours and giant flat screen, who could have missed it?

This year, ISOPA’s stand at UTECH aimed to inform stakeholders who had never been in direct contact with the association, yet had an interest in and contribute to the development of the polyurethanes’ sector. The spotlight shined on ISOPA’s activities, its added value for producers of diisocyanates and polyols and, in turn, its added value for the European polyurethanes industry. In short, product stewardship and sustainability were the magic words. It is only natural then that the Polyurethanes campaign and ISOPA’s product stewardship programmes were given lots of attention.

In a few glances, visitors and exhibitors who came by the stand had a comprehensive overview of ISOPA and enjoyed a great atmosphere… Not to mention they all left with a polyurethanes-made sticky pad!

Successful give-aways!

Successful give-aways!

A well represented ISOPA delegation

ISOPA also made an impression in the conference rooms! The programme was busy at UTECH this year with many important speakers, and ISOPA was very well represented.

On day 1, the welcoming speech was given by Frank Grunert, ISOPA President, who reminded the audience how much the industry is committed to meeting the best product stewarship standards and key societal challenges (climate change, energy efficiency, food waste, etc…). He also made clear that nothing can be achieved without a close cooperation with all actors in the PU value chain.

On day 2, an entire morning was dedicated to ISOPA’s activities. The session opened with a presentation by Jörg Palmersheim, ISOPA Seceratry General who then passed the baton to ISOPA members . Ronald van den Bosch (Dow) took the floor first and shared the latest news on product stewardship. He was followed by Diane Daems (Huntsman) who confronted myths and reality on fire safety and polyurethanes. Then came K.W. Kroesen (BASF), Frank Rothbarth (Bayer MaterialScience) and Shpresa Kotaji (Huntsman), who respectively elaborated on REACH, ISOPA’s communication activities and the Passive House.

If you are interested to know more about ISOPA´s objectives and the polyurethane industry, don´t hesitate to visit our new website and share your opinions with us on Twitter!

 

Frank Grunert, ISOPA President and Jörg  Palmersheim, ISOPA Secretary General

Frank Grunert, ISOPA President and Jörg
Palmersheim, ISOPA Secretary General

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, furniture, Innovation, Passive House, Polyurethanes, Public Policy, Sports goods, Sustainability, Versatility, Video | Comments Off

Guest blog: Frank Grunert | “Polyurethane’s contribution to growth in Europe”

In the new European institutional landscape, with kick-starting growth having emerged as a top priority for policy-makers, Frank Grunert, the President of ISOPA, explains how the polyurethane industry will contribute to re-launching Europe’s competitiveness. With more than 30 years of experience in the polyurethane industry, including in Asia Pacific and China, he shares with us key insights on the polyurethanes’ industry contribution to job creation and the economy and his vision for continued future cooperation between the industry and regulators.

Frank Grunert, ISOPA President

Frank Grunert, ISOPA President

 Mr. Grunert, what are the polyurethanes sector’s major socio-economic contributions?

According to ISOPA’s April 2014 socio-economic report, polyurethanes involve close to 240,000 companies in Europe and sustain the jobs of over 1 million Europeans, from the production of the polyurethane components, diisocyanates and polyols, to the manufacturing of products in a wide variety of sectors such as insulation, automotive or footwear.

In some sectors in particular, the impact of polyurethanes cannot be overlooked. This is especially true for the housing sector, where polyurethanes materials are being used from insulation to refrigeration and furniture. Beyond efficiency and performance, the key features of polyurethane-based solutions also lie in their ability to protect our planet’s natural resources through enhancing durability and recycling options.

Why is polyurethane a key sector for European economic recovery?

You mentioned polyurethane involves close to 240,000 companies in Europe. How important are small and medium enterprises?

Out of the 240,000 European companies that are involved in the process of manufacturing, transforming and using polyurethane, 85% are SMEs. All in all, it is thanks to polyurethane’s versatility and multiple applications that these SMEs materialise their innovative ideas and create new jobs.

Why is sustainability a key component of economic growth?

Going forward, preserving the Earth’s natural resources will be one pre-requisite for sustaining long-term economic growth. Investing in polyurethane solutions will not only provide additional employment opportunities for European but will also help to ensure that our national resources are preserved for future generations.

Polyurethane solutions are not only long lasting but they also provide for various recovery options at the end of their life-cycle. Depending on the type of polyurethane the industry has developed different ways of recycling.

By aligning itself to Europe’s commitment to a circular economy, the polyurethane industry throughout its value chains favours the growth of innovative sectors, while ensuring the conservation of both financial and natural resources through the durability of its products.

How has the polyurethanes industry aligned with Europe’s new priorities?

ISOPA fully supports the strong commitment of the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker to job creation and growth policies. Reinvigorating Europe’s industry through greater investment and targeted supportive regulatory framework will be central to Europe’s competitiveness. That is especially the case for an industry such as polyurethanes that affects multiple sectors and already employs over 1 million Europeans throughout its value chains.

Furthermore, revised policies e.g. for more energy efficiency would support a strengthened industrial base. Given the broad applications of polyurethane materials, such as cold chain or transportation, it is of paramount importance to engage in a dialogue and align the industry with policy-makers’ expectations of European industrial policy across all member states.

Last but not least, as energy policy is being recalibrated it is important new policies account for both environmental and economic performance. By working together with the industry European policy-makers could support initiatives that ensure efficiency and sustainable development. For example, polyurethane is one of the most resource-efficient materials – it uses less than 0.1% of oil consumed worldwide and saves up to 100 times more. An ambitious energy efficiency policy would be beneficial both to consumers, decision-makers and producers.

Today’s innovation is the solution to tomorrow’s challenges. ISOPA and its member companies can show you the way.

If you are interested to know more about ISOPA´s objectives and the polyurethane industry, don´t hesitate to visit our new website and share your opinions with us on Twitter!

 

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency Directive, Innovation, Passive House, Polyurethanes, Public Policy, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Creating chemistry for a sustainable future

We live at the time of big changes. Unprecedented socio-economic and environmental concerns as well as hardly predictable political developments create great challenges for both European leaders and economic actors. And going forward, the chemical industry will be one of the sectors to play a pivotal role in tackling those challenges.

Not only this industry significantly contributes to the economy (ed. the European chemical industry directly and indirectly contributes to around 20% to the EU’s annual GDP), but it provides some of the most innovative and sustainable solutions to turn challenges into opportunities. It is in such context that, on 16 March 2015, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) presented its new Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda.

SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda 2015

The new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda introduces an action plan addressing the most staggering societal issues in Europe. The agenda highlights five key areas – climate action, food security, energy efficiency, citizens’ wellbeing and greener transport – as described in Horizon 2020. In presenting the project, the Chairman of the SusChem Board, Dr Klaus Sommer, said: “the new strategic document highlights the role of the chemical industry in boosting innovation in Europe and the potential for sustainable chemistry technologies to tackle societal challenges, as outlined in Horizon 2020.”

As its first point, the Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda highlights the important role that the chemical industry plays in redefining European climate policies, with a particular focus on resource efficiency and preservation of natural resources.

High importance is also given on the chemical industry’s capability, through its value chain, to achieve sustainable food security and waste management, introduce efficient energy use and bring innovation in healthcare and transport sectors.

ISOPA supports SusChem’s position

Through the Polyurethanes campaign, ISOPA has been engaging with public, industry stakeholders and policy makers on the benefits of the polyurethanes industry for Europeans, the environment and the economy. It is only through combined efforts of policy makers, civil society and industry that the Horizon 2020 targets (and beyond) can be achieved.

It has been over 5 years that ISOPA has been looking ahead and organising activities, such as dinner debates gathering representatives of the European institutions, industry and civil society on a number of key concerns for Europe. Our projects, in line with SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda, aim to discuss innovative strategies and present solutions to key societal challenges.

For example, following the end of the European Year against food waste ISOPA organised a dinner debate on the issue to assess how commitments made in 2014 could be carried over in the year to come. The dinner debate brought together stakeholders from the European Commission, European Parliament, NGOs and industry and was an opportunity for ISOPA to highlight that innovative materials such as polyurethanes could play a role in tackling EU priority issues.

ISOPA’s next step is to attend the UTECH Europe 2015 exhibition on 14-16 April 2015. In Maastricht ISOPA will interact with industry stakeholders to reinforce the message that a strong and proactive industry could benefit far more than itself. It could be a valuable ally to policy makers in addressing key environmental and socio-economic issues.

Polyurethanes: the best example of sustainable chemistry

According to Eurostat, households accounted for 19% of the overall greenhouse gas emissions in Europe in 2012. Nonetheless with every problem comes a solution! In 2013, ISOPA spearheaded and manufactured the ‘Passive House’ project to demonstrate in action both to regulators and the general public the positive environmental and socio-economic impacts of innovative materials manufactured from diisocyanates and polyols.

The ‘Passive House’ which was built using innovative polyurethane applications, requires reduced resources for its heating and cooling thus contributing to reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Not to mention that the polyurethane industry across its value chain leads by example and showcases the benefits of sustainable waste management. In fact, more than 250,000 tonnes of polyurethane are recycled and recovered every year, and the number is increasing!

Where are we heading?

So what’s at stake going forward? Our environment, our economy and our well-being. This is why ISOPA invites everybody, from the public to policy makers to have a look at the new SusChem agenda and acknowledge the chemical industry’s important role in creating a sustainable future for Europe.

For more information on the ISOPA’s activities or any other questions on polyurethane’s contribution to sustainable chemistry do not hesitate to engage with us on Twitter and read our blog posts!

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Innovation, Other, Sustainability | Tagged , , | Comments Off

The future of European environmental policy: what’s the industry’s role?

The protection of the environment and economic growth are not enemies. On the contrary, they should go hand in hand, in Europe more than anywhere.

According to a comprehensive assessment published by the European Environment Agency on 16 March 2015, the state of Europe’s environment is closely linked to the broader economic and societal context. Protecting natural resources will have an important positive effect both on Europe’s growth and on its citizens’ quality of life.

As the Agency notes, “environmental policies are also creating economic opportunities and thereby contributing to the Europe 2020 Strategy, aimed at making the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020.” This is particularly true as the European Commission discusses its new ‘Circular Economy Package’ at the highest political level.

Furthermore, the European industry’s commitment to shift to resource efficiency is worth mentioning. From the introduction to life-cycle thinking in the production, use and disposal of products to the investment in research and development to produce more durable materials, trends are positive.

At the same time, even the latest economic recession has created opportunities. In order to maintain their global competitive advantage, European firms have invested in developing the highest quality products, in order to ensure that they remain their customers’ first choice. All in all, over the past years, policy-makers’ and economic actors’ objectives have converged for the benefit of Europeans and the environment.

The polyurethanes industry supports European competitiveness and environmental ambitions

With close to 240,000 companies directly and indirectly depending on Polyurethanes in Europe, the polyurethanes industry is a strong supporter of Europe’s environmental policy ambitions as they will ultimately contribute to our continent’s future industrial competitive advantage.

From the producers of polyurethane’s compounds, diisocyanates and polyols, to manufacturers of products using polyurethane in their end product it has become obvious that committing to sustainability also means committing to long-term economic growth. This is particularly true for sectors investing in innovative materials such as the insulation sector.

In addressing buildings’ energy efficiency, through refurbishment, European policy-makers can “hit two birds with one stone.”

Investing in polyurethanes solutions will not only contribute to supporting European industry, SMEs for the greatest part, but will also lower emissions and decrease waste. Why is that? Polyurethanes use less than 0.1% of oil consumed worldwide and can save up to 100 times more. All in all, polyurethanes save 14.5 million tonnes of CO2 in Europe each year in building insulation and lightweight automotive components alone – the equivalent of almost 2 millions’ homes electricity use for one year.

When approximately 40% of fossil fuels are used to heat and to cool buildings of all types, improved insulation is therefore one of the most cost effective ways to lower energy consumption, cut carbon dioxide emissions, reduce the associated threat of global warming and ultimately improve consumers’ spending. Also of note, European institutions and national government have noted that financial support will be provided to forward-looking companies, meaning sustainability will be the key to receiving the support to create new jobs.

In addition, polyurethanes are recoverable, and there is a wide range of possibilities for dealing with end-of-life polyurethanes –be it recycling or recovery – to ensure that polyurethanes are re-re-injected in the economic system while minimising the burden on the environment. That is particularly promising at a time when the European Environment Agency’s report notes that “despite recent progress in waste prevention and management, EU waste generation remains substantial, and performance relative to policy targets is mixed.”

Producing polyurethane, investing in Europe’s future… The future is not only about what we make out of it. It’s also what we make it from.

For more on the impact of polyurethane in preserving our planet’s resources or for any questions on what makes polyurethane materials sustainable do not hesitate to engage with us on Twitter!

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Innovation, Public Policy, Sustainability | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Product stewardship programmes: ISOPA’s mark for the future

Have you ever heard of product stewardship and why it matters? If you haven’t, this is an opportunity to learn more about it as it impacts us all.

Product stewardship is the process of identifying, managing and minimizing a product’s environmental, health and safety impact. The entire value chain is part of the effort as it brings together all actors involved in the production, use and End of Life stage.

It should come as no surprise that product stewardship is of crucial and incremental importance for the chemical industry at large, and for ISOPA in particular.

Product stewardship is vitally important for ISOPA

Product stewardship is part of ISOPA’s DNA. The association and its members develop promote programmes in order to guarantee the safe handling of diisocyanates and polyols, the chemistry behind polyurethanes. In addition to ensure businesses and products comply with the highest safety standards, ISOPA encourages all relevant private and public partners work with them in understanding and adopting these best practices.

Concretely, the first step to minimise environmental and health impact is to provide robust data and expert advice to all relevant parties throughout the polyurethanes’ value chain – from production to waste management.

The “Walk the Talk”, “Logistics” and “One Step Ahead” education and information programmes are platforms created by ISOPA to ensure safety information is disseminated. These programmes enable for both workers, transporters and customers of polyurethanes to understand the importance of sharing responsibilities to guarantee the safe handling of chemical compounds. All in all, they demonstrate ISOPA’s commitment to promote industrial responsibility going forward, both in Europe and beyond.

“Walk the Talk”: Improving safety across Europe

walk the talk

Walk the Talk” is a programme developed by the ISOPA’s members with the aim to improve safety, health and environmental standards across the European polyurethanes industry. It focuses on the behavioural safety in the industry through an ongoing process of information exchange and dialogue. The programme consists of detailed sets of training covering all the phases of the industrial process: processing, maintenance, warehousing and waste of polyurethanes.

“Walk the Talk” programmes are available in 26 languages and a large number of employees have received special modular training tailored to the specific situation on their work sites.

Logistics: High standards for loading and unloading safety across Europe

logisticsISOPA is committed to the continuous increase of standards in the loading, transport, unloading and storage of diisocyanates and polyols. Our aim is to assure maximum protection of health and safety and a consistent industry wide approach.

Putting this into practice and to ensure the highest levels of safety in the transportation of chemicals, ISOPA developed programs like: Guidelines for bulk and packed MDI/TDI and Driver Training for carriers.

 “One Step Ahead”: ISOPA’s programme in the Middle East and Africa

One Step Ahead” (OSA) is ISOPA’s seminar programme that aims to increase awareness and standards in the loading, unloading, storage and use of diisocyanates and polyols in Africa and the Middle East since 1998. For over 15 years it has received extremely positive feedback from participants across countries. That’s promising for the future!

In 2014, ISOPA held “One Step Ahead” in:

  • April 2014 in Tanzania
  • November 2014 in Dubai

In May 2015, “One Step Ahead” activities will be held in Morocco.

OSA

The programme’s guidelines, posters and self-assessment forms ensure the optimal protection of health and safety for the users of these chemical products. The seminars are held locally by representatives of ISOPA member companies using suitably adapted materials for the specific markets’ needs.

For more information on ISOPA’s product stewardship programmes visit our website or email us.

Posted in Innovation, Polyurethanes, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Creativity in materials: A sustainable ride into the sunset

Everyone wants a car that can combine performance and efficiency, from the regulators to consumers. Innovation in materials will be key going forward.

Transport: A priority sector in the Commission’s climate & energy plans

The automotive industry undeniably is one of the most challenged industries of our century but one that holds the most opportunities for progress. As one of the sectors contributing most to European and worldwide CO2 emissions, road transportation has become critical to the discussions on climate change and environmental sustainability. In fact, at European level, authorities have estimated that road transport, and more specifically light-duty vehicles – vans and cars – currently represent about 15% of EU’s total CO2 emissions.

As a result of its significant environmental impact, the automotive industry has faced increasing regulatory challenges. Yet, the same challenges have also led the sector to create new opportunities. For instance, innovation in materials has been – and will keep being – crucial to the sector’s future. New materials used for the production of vehicles play a critical role in tackling climate change as they can contribute to reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The environmental and economic significance of the automotive and overall transport sector has notably led the European Commission to identify it as a key area in the recently published Energy Union Package. Indeed, in addition to its environmental aspect, transports’ reliance on imported energy has led the European Union to further encourage the use of new sources of energy and the development of more energy efficient vehicles to increase the region’s independence from external providers.

Officially introduced on 25 February 2015, the European Commission‘s Energy Union Package gives an overview of the climate and energy objectives and policy initiatives the EU will undertake within the next 5 years. It notably furthers the Commission’s 2050 Transport Strategy which asserted the EU’s objective to cut transport emissions by 60% by 2050. The same strategy also emphasized the need to develop more energy efficient modes of transportation, to extend intermodal networks, and to improve infrastructures.

From an environmental perspective, the new Commission therefore plans to tighten CO2 emissions and energy efficiency standards, in particular in the case of passenger cars and vans. Of note, a review of the post-2020 regulation setting emission performance standards for road vehicles will be carried out in 2016-2017. On the shorter-term, the regulatory initiative set up in the Energy Union should also help the EU meeting its earlier established 2020 targets on reducing CO2 emissions from road transportation.

Polyurethane: when innovation meets sustainability

Going forward the automotive industry has a critical role to play in the fight against climate change. And improving vehicle materials and design will be key to reducing vehicles’ environmental impact. Energy savings essentially depend on practical innovations. For example, from seats to structural bonding, door panels and panoramic glasses, polyurethane enables cars to gain in lightness and durability while reducing their CO2 impact.

For car geeks out there, polyurethane foam in seats and headliners help decreasing their density. Similarly, composite door panels are made thinner and lighter thanks to fibre mats made from polyurethanes. In addition, polyurethanes in car seals and adhesives also improve vehicles’ dynamic and strength. All in all, that’s beneficial both for the environment and for your wallet as you’ll make more fuel savings.

Meeting EU energy and climate change objectives takes more than commitments. It takes creativity! Thanks to polyurethane, enhancing vehicles’ energy efficiency and environmental sustainability goes hand in hand with modern design and economic savings for the consumer.

You can also take a look at our video for more information on the impact of polyurethanes on our live. Also, do not hesitate to engage with us on Twitter and ask your questions!

car

Posted in Innovation, Polyurethanes, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Meet ISOPA at UTECH 2015!

UTECH 2015, the leading international event for the polyurethanes industry, will take place in Maastricht on 14-15-16 April 2015.

Come visit ISOPA’s stand and learn more on ISOPA’s activities and how today’s imagination is the solution to tomorrow’s challenges!

For more on ISOPA’s UTECH activities stay tuned on our blog and our Twitter account.

 

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Fashion, furniture, Health Care, Innovation, Passive House, Polyurethanes, Public Policy, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

En route pour Paris COP 21: ISOPA commits to the values of sustainable development

23 years have passed since the Chairman’s for the World Commission on Environment and Development inspiring speech welcomed 175 world leaders to the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Rio in 1992. Since then, endless discussions, followed by national policies and international agreements, have been echoing the need to ensure our planet’s sustainable future.

Worryingly, according to the UN World Meteorological Organisation, fourteen out of the fifteen record-hot years have occurred after 2000. That means more efficient work needs to be done!

A couple of weeks back, in Geneva, the United Nations’ negotiators completed the draft document of the Paris Summit negotiating text. One after another countries are now drafting their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) ahead of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 that will take place in Paris in November-December 2015. By the end of March 2015, the European Union is also expected to submit its INDC.

Meanwhile, whilst the world is holding their breaths in waiting, ISOPA reiterates its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions through innovation in materials.

Europe: Leading the way in Sustainable Development

At EU level, 2015 is a crucial year. The new European Commission has been working towards developing policies in order to ensure jobs and economic growth in a sustainable environment.

In revising its climate and energy, air quality and waste policy the European Union has committed to putting sustainability at the centre of Europe’s future growth. This is where the industry can play a significant role.

Cutting the levels of greenhouse emissions does not equal the end of industrialisation. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity for the world to enter the third phase of industrial development: more sustainable, environmentally-friendly, technologically advanced thus yielding benefits for the economy, the environment and consumers. That is ISOPA’s mantra

Polyurethanes: A Primary Example of Sustainable Industrialisation

Throughout their value chains polyurethanes embody the principles behind sustainable development. While polyurethanes are mainly based on finite fossil raw material resources, their specific properties help to conserve material and energy resources, to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and to protect high and growing standards of living; making them a key contributor to environmental sustainability. Building & construction, transport and refrigeration are amongst the most important sectors where polyurethanes can make a difference. Overall, throughout its lifecycle polyurethane saves approximately 80 times more energy than it is used for its production.

Furthermore, ISOPA’s quest for sustainability and innovation has opened a door for new developments in the production of polyurethanes. For example, in 2011, a group of German chemists discovered a way to produce a chemical precursor into which CO2 is integrated and then processed into polyurethanes. That meant CO2 would no longer be wasted but would rather be used as feedstock for the production of high quality plastics instead going into the atmosphere.

Replacing oil with CO2 in the production of polyurethanes has also provided a basis from shifting the industry’s reliance of fossil fuels. Thus, using CO2 as a substitute for crude oil is reducing the production costs for polyurethane products making them dependent on commodities’ volatile prices. That’s good both for producers and consumers!

All in all, innovation is becoming the industry’s flagship that will yield significant outcomes. ISOPA supports the European objectives and showcases that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 are achievable. Reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions are not a barrier for the development in the 21st century. They are an OPPORTUNITY. By following the polyurethane’s example other industries can help achieve the COP 21 goals and ensure an ecologically an economically secure future for future generations.

If you are interested to know more about the ISOPA’s objectives and sustainable PU industry, don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter  and visit our website .

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Innovation, Polyurethanes, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Polyurethanes don’t do fashion. They’re fashion.

Twice a year, for a month, fashionistas from all over the world jump between the world’s fashion capitals to witness the culmination of designers’ genius: catwalks. If you think this is an easy process, think again. Running from show to show while looking flawless is harder than one imagines. This is why all designers, editors, bloggers and models can think of is how to better combine beauty and innovation with comfort. Thankfully polyurethanes are there to make their lives easier.

“I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world.” Right on Bette Midler!

fashion 1

From the 1960’s to today to today polyurethane has taken centre stage in shoe production. Thanks to its versatility and long life-span polyurethane is the go to material for designers who want to offer their customers the best possible support for their feet while combining creativity. That’s optimal when you want to stand out in front of photographers. Or even when you want to look funky at the gym!

As for ethical fashionistas who wonder what will happen to their favourite pair when it has worn out from frenetically walking up and down the Jardin des Tuileries, we have good news! Polyurethane components are recyclable and could even be used as a potential energy source.

Polyurethane in clothes: at the service of the consumer

Aside from shoes polyurethane is used from bags to sports gear. A lot of women reading this article may just realise that one of their favourite bags or even the “leather” skirt they own is made of polyurethane. It’s a great alternative for consumers who want to avoid leather yet do not want to compromise in quality or aesthetics.

Furthermore, as technology and our everyday needs progressed textile manufacturers managed to combine polyurethane with nylon in order to produce swimsuits, socks or gym wear. It is partly thanks to polyurethane’s inimitable qualities that designers can materialise their creativity yet ensure their customers are comfortable in soft and breathable garments.

And for those living in Brussels, take a look at your raincoat’s tag. Often sports anoraks and light rain clothes are made of polyurethane coating to ensure top quality water resistance. That’s a big deal when you brave the raindrops multiple times a week!

Blown away by polyurethane’s applications? Share a picture of your favourite item made of polyurethane on Twitter and we’ll tell you more about the chemistry behind polyurethanes!

fashion 2

Posted in Fashion, Innovation, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Innovation in materials: Key to European energy security

Over the past months, with Europe’s regional environment suffering instability and Member States defining new climate and energy targets, energy policy has raised to one of the European Union’s priorities. From the 2030 Climate and Energy package to the ‘genesis’ of the Energy Union under the new Commission, all eyes are on energy. As expected, thanks to its potential, energy efficiency in buildings receives its share of the spotlight.

Energy efficiency: A fundamental dimension of the ‘new’ Energy Union

When presenting his Energy Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker emphasized commitment to promote energy efficiency. This dimension of the Energy Union reveals that Europe intends to solve its energy security challenges by doing more that ensuring security of supply. As pointed out by the European Commission Vice President in charge of Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, while “the European Union imports more than half of all the energy it consumes” there is a need to invest in the buildings sector.

Energy efficiency under the Energy Union follows EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy ambition to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Ahead of the publication of the Communication on the Energy Union to be published on 25 February 2015, a leaked version underlined that the Commission intends to set up a communications strategy on the benefits and necessity of energy efficiency to the public in cooperation with Member States. The document also hinted to a legislative proposal to meet the 2030 energy efficiency target, based on a revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Performance of Buildings Directive.

European Parliament: A valuable ally to energy efficiency

At the same time, the European Parliament has been active on establishing a strong relationship between energy security and energy efficiency. More specifically, on February 3 the European Parliament Industry Committee (ITRE) published the amendments to the draft report on European Energy Security. The 821 amendments submitted demonstrate that the issue of energy security has received particular attention in the Parliament. A significant number of MEPs underlined that the impact of energy efficiency would be favourable both from an internal and external perspective, leading to lower energy prices and reducing the need for imports.

The European Parliament Environment (ENVI) Committee also published a list of amendments. Promoting energy efficiency was one of the recurrent themes demonstrating the Parliament’s positive stance towards developing comprehensive regulation on the issue. Energy efficiency in buildings emerged as the MEPs’ first priority creating a call for additional advocacy towards the European Parliament.

While MEPs and the Commission have not agreed yet on how to materialise energy efficiency objectives, there appears to be a consensus over revising and enhancing the provisions on European Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Buildings Directives. While no proposal is expected to be put on the table until the end of the year, stakeholders have become increasingly active in order to give energy efficiency in buildings the clout it deserves.

Buildings renovation: A necessary step to energy security

Buildings renovation, notably encompassing improved insulation, plays a significant role in the search for a more efficient and independent Europe. Better building insulation leads to reduced needs in energy. Thus, not only does it help limit the need for external energy supply and supplier, but it also enables the effective preservation of the environment and its natural resources.

Improved insulation is also the key to savings on the consumer’s and the government’s side. While energy poverty has been affecting a significant part of households in Europe better insulation can enable more Europeans to enjoy the comfort of a warm home, no matter their levels of income.

Polyurethanes for a more sustainable Europe

One of the key materials for building insulation, polyurethane is pivotal to the achievement of a more energy efficient and sustainable Europe. Insulating and renovating new and older buildings with the appropriate polyurethane rigid foam can help European governments save significant financial and natural resources.

All in all, Europe’s climate and energy ambition reminds us of how crucial energy efficiency is to the Europe’s future: enhancing its energy independence, preserving its resources and ensuring its population well-being. In making this future a reality, polyurethane becomes an indispensable material enabling for the warmer homes and happier Europeans.

For more insights on how the energy policy debate is unfolding on a European level and the benefits of polyurethanes for our everyday lives, visit our website or connect with us on Twitter  to share your own ideas and opinions.

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency Directive, Innovation, Passive House, Polyurethanes, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off