Polyurethane industry’s contribution to sustainable development – 3 Questions to Shpresa Kotaji, Chair of the ISOPA Polyurethane Applications Cluster

Over the past 10 years, sustainable development has risen to the top of the political and regulatory agenda. Today more than ever, European policy-makers and industrial actors are working together to ensure European manufacturing remains both competitive and environmentally sustainable.

Product sustainability has become part of the polyurethane industry’s DNA. For years, Isopa and its members have driven innovation and elevated the promotion of sustainability throughout its products’ life cycle to one of its top priorities. Shpresa Kotaji, the Chair of the ISOPA Polyurethane Applications Cluster explains how the polyurethane industry made it.

How has ISOPA’s commitment to a sustainable value chain evolved over time?

For ISOPA, promoting sustainability extends beyond the responsibility of every single one of its members to the industry as a whole. Since its creation in 1987, ISOPA has worked closely both with upstream and downstream associations to develop programmes to ensure the sustainability of polyurethane products from their production to their end-of-life. For example, ISOPA Product Stewardship programmes bring all industrial stakeholders together and work towards developing industry-wide best practices. This is achieved through continuous interaction and training. As our programmes grew in size, we diversified the content in order to address specific needs such as the safety of carriers. This is the force that will be driving our work forward.

More specifically, there are three areas we are particularly proud of:

  • Since the 1990s, ISOPA and downstream associations worked to advance the recycling and recovery options for polyurethanes through a series of programmes and initiatives, as well as publications of factsheets and specific reports. Our hard work has been recognised and now ISOPA is considered as a key sectorial player in this field, participating in events, stakeholder consultations or research projects.
  • 1993 was also a milestone for ISOPA: this is when the association started working on industrial eco-profiles. Ever since then ISOPA’s data library has been constantly updated. More recently, we have also been working to test EU product environmental footprint methodologies and have participated in EU standardisation programmes, such as the one on Sustainable Construction.
  • Last but not least, another aspect of ISOPA’s activities that has evolved is the participation in the development of eco-labelling. Since the 1990s ISOPA has been an active partner to European institutions and has provided technical and scientific information to ensure the most relevant criteria are developed; for us, this is the only way to ensure high performance and high consumer satisfaction.

What are the main challenges for the industry to promote sustainable practice while maintaining its competitive edge towards its international competitors?

For decades, the European chemical sector, including ISOPA member companies, has gone through tremendous efforts to reduce its energy and resource use and its emissions. Industrial innovation on resource efficiency made great strides at all stages of production.

Taking into account ambitious European climate and energy targets, the global market and the quality of European industrial products, the main challenge going forward will be to ensure that chemical manufacturing in Europe maintains the highest level of quality. Quality is the cornerstone of European excellence.

However, this does not mean that manufacturing outside Europe should be left unregulated. High product stewardship standards should be required from all players, both within and outside of the EU. Nonetheless, regulation should be smart and flexible, adjusting to the realities of the market in order to reward quality.

In addition, to maintain its global edge, the EU must ensure its energy market is efficient and consolidated. Energy efficiency standards combined with other methods to strengthen Europe’s energy security will lower energy prices both for energy-intensive companies and for consumers. This can be achieved by creating the framework to support innovative materials, such as polyurethanes which are used in transport and buildings, which together account for 60% Europe’s energy use.

For example, special focus should be given on thermal renovation of the building stock – not only will it create jobs locally, thus boosting the economy but it will also ensure consumers pay a lighter energy bill while using sustainable material produced in the EU.

What are the applications of polyurethane that will have a critical impact on sustainability and comfort in the years to come?

Looking ahead, as our society is aiming at reducing the use of resources; polyurethane will be the material of choice for a significant number of sectors that have been actively engaging to increase their energy efficiency.

From improving the energy saving potential of our building stock, to developing more efficient appliances polyurethane is the material that can enable manufacturers to be ambitious. This is particularly the case of automotive and rail producers who want to drive the boundaries of innovation yet remaining efficient.

As for those in quest of comfort, polyurethane flexible foam will continue to dominate the market for mattresses and furniture; its durability and quality will become increasingly important to an aging population. Not to mention that polyurethane is becoming an increasingly fashionable material for all the sustainable fashionistas out there! “The future starts today, not tomorrow” – and it’s made of polyurethane.

Should you have questions on the sustainability of polyurethane materials engage with us on Twitter and visit our website.


Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Fashion, furniture, Innovation, Polyurethanes, Public Policy, Sustainability, Versatility | Comments Off on Polyurethane industry’s contribution to sustainable development – 3 Questions to Shpresa Kotaji, Chair of the ISOPA Polyurethane Applications Cluster

The power of a summer siesta thanks to Polyurethane flexible foam

Siesta: /sɪˈɛstə/ An afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate


All you’ve been dreaming about all winter is an after-lunch siesta, enjoying the fresh sea breeze? The time has come! Sit back on your polyurethane couch or lie on your polyurethane mattress and fully enjoy the benefits winding down.

Why is a summer siesta beneficial?

Undeniably sleep is beneficial for us. But specifically why is it worth spending that extra hour on our comfortable bed? First, one study on working women as well a review of literature on sleep both concluded that lack of sleep could affect one’s mood and lead to increased stress during the day. The opposite of what we want when we’re on holidays, wouldn’t you say?

Not to mention that sleep is key to perform better at summer sports that require strength and attention, such as surfing or diving. More specifically, according to a study on college athletes demonstrated a link between lack of sleep and a diminished ability to process information to make swift decisions.

As for the ones among us who see the summer as the best time to shed that extra winter weight – take a rest. As experts have reiterated on multiple occasions, sleeping hours amount for the time when our body heals any injuries, activates its metabolism and regenerates its tissues. Off to bed we go then!

In addition, a Clinical and Experimental Dermatology study  concluded that ultraviolet light exposure would have less impact on people who sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night. Who knew it was a good addition to our sunscreen.

Last but not least, enjoying an afternoon nap can also be beneficial for our fall performance at the office. Did you know that sleep-deprived people lose out on their short-term memory? Hence, if you’re planning to head south, don’t feel guilty to follow the locals’ lifestyle. You’ll reap the rewards in the fall.

How polyurethane can optimise your sleep

As we’ve hinted above, the essential component to a relaxed sleep is polyurethane. Polyurethane flexible foam is mattress manufacturers’ material of choice for its inimitable qualities – comfort, durability and support.

As for customers, they show preference to furniture made from polyurethane as its cellular structure, allows good ventilation and heat transfer. Polyurethane foams adapt to and support the body’s contours. Memory foam is a popular form of polyurethane, which adapts to the shape of a person’s body, ensuring restful sleep. That’s exactly what one is looking for when enjoying the benefits of a summer siesta.

Should you want additional information on the applications of polyurethanes engage with us on Twitter and visit our website! And above all, enjoy your summer!

Posted in furniture, Innovation, Passive House, Polyurethanes, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The power of a summer siesta thanks to Polyurethane flexible foam

Efficient appliances: Fighting climate change starts at home

Have you ever thought of the impact of your households appliances on your monthly energy budget and on the environment? Probably not as often as you should. The European Union, however, in an effort to fight climate change and ensure lower energy bills for consumers, has put appliances at the centre of its climate and energy policy.

Energy efficiency & Consumer empowerment

Over the past months, discussions over industrial innovation and its impact on Europe’s energy policy have intensified.

The Luxembourgish Presidency of the European Union, which will last from July to December 2015, reiterated the importance of promoting innovative technologies as they align both with the priorities on European competitiveness and on the recalibration of the European climate and energy policy. That includes the development of more energy-efficient household appliances.

The will to promote energy efficiency through innovation in order to benefit consumers was also reflected in the Energy Council conclusions on the implementation of the Energy Union adopted on June 8, 2015. The conclusions clearly call for investment and promotion of energy efficiency and innovative, low-carbon technologies which would increase security of supply for European consumers. On a regulatory level, the conclusions underline the importance of implementing existing energy efficiency legislation combined with stakeholder engagement in its review process.

Is the EU introducing new rules for appliances?

No, not really. Rather, it is reviewing existing ones. More specifically the European Commission, which is responsible for developing regulations, intends to review the Directives on Eco-design and Energy labelling in 2016 at the latest.

The EU-wide rules aim to ensure the decrease of CO2 emissions and life cycle cost of appliances for the consumers.

In addition, the European Commission’s Eco-design Working Plan for 2015-2017 is still being discussed and will likely be published in the fall. In turn, new rules for additional products are expected to be presented in 2016.

As a member of the Eco-Design Consultation Forum which was set up by the Commission, ISOPA not only has been closely following the regulation’s implementation but also emphasized the importance of innovation in materials in order to boost energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions at consumer level.

How about the Parliament? Does it support energy efficient appliances?

Members of the European Parliament have been particularly vocal about the impact energy efficiency can have on mitigating the impact of climate change. At Parliament level however, energy efficiency is only addressed through the lens of the implementation of the Energy Union.

Nonetheless, there has been broad consensus that cost-effective regulation would enable Europe to boost its industrial competitiveness at global level. This is particularly true for efficient appliances we use every day at home. For this reason the review of the energy efficiency framework for products (Energy Labelling and Eco-design Directives) has been scheduled for 7 July 2015, in Strasbourg.

How are polyurethanes actually contributing to a better European Energy system?

Did you know polyurethane rigid foams are excellent insulators while being light and needing little space? For example, refrigerators and water kettles insulated with polyurethane foam leach minimal energy during their use, drastically reducing energy demand. Not to mention that at manufacturing level, the use of polyurethane, thanks to its inherent adherence and strength allows to reduce the thickness of the outer liners, further reducing resource depletion.

All in all, appliances insulated with polyurethane are designed to use less energy meaning that stricter energy standards can be met and the benefits passed onto the consumer. In addition, going forward, ISOPA members keep on focusing research and development to optimise the performance and designs of appliances. Great news for everyone wouldn’t you say?

Should you want additional information on the applications of polyurethanes engage with us on Twitter and visit our website!

Posted in Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Innovation, Other, Polyurethanes, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Efficient appliances: Fighting climate change starts at home

Circular Economy Roadmap: Where will it take us?

In May 2015, the European Commission published its awaited Circular Economy Roadmap. The roadmap is key in the circular economy discussions as it presents European authorities’ main priorities and strategy on resource efficiency. Beyond the actual environmental issues it aims at tackling, the concept of circular economy encompasses a number of other dimensions which can have crucial socio-economic impacts on European citizens and affect Europe’s competitiveness.

Circular Economy strategy: the piece of a broader puzzle

In July 2014, the former European Commission adopted a waste legislative proposal that was notably planning to create “an enabling framework for the circular economy” in Europe and was meant to improve legislative and non-legislative policy instruments to promote the circular economy, green employment, green action plan for SMEs sustainable buildings and legislative proposals on waste.

Yet, when it took office last November, the new European Commission decided to withdraw the circular economy package for its lack of ‘circularity’. The package was too much focused on waste. Following this decision, the Commission immediately began discussing new ambitions.


Commissioner Vella at the European Parliament

More insight on the roadmap

The newly published roadmap highlights the Commission’s understanding of the course of action to achieve a circular economy in Europe.

One of the main points emphasized by the European executive branch is that the circular economy requires action at all stages of the life cycle of products. Consequently all aspects of products’ manufacturing, distribution, consumption and waste management require action and involvement from both public and private stakeholders to improve their environmental and economic sustainability.

Thus, the aim of the circular economy strategy is to tackle any barriers that could impede the growth of existing and new markets and business models, by ensuring a comprehensive and coherent approach that “fully takes into account interactions and interdependence across the whole value chain, rather than focusing exclusively on one part of the economic cycle”. According to the roadmap, such initiatives would also create an added value to for Europe and help create jobs, improve consumers’ experience, and reduce products’ environmental impacts.

For the industry this is a crucial point and what is even more positive is that its contribution has been emphasized in the consultation on the Circular Economy launched by the European Commission on 28 May 2015.

Where does ISOPA fit into discussions on the circular economy?

As a representative of the polyurethane industry, ISOPA is committed to ensuring the waste management and resource efficiency of products from diisocyanates and polyols can benefit both the environment and European society and economy.

We have illustrated our commitment to such goals by investing in research and innovation to improve polyurethanes’ waste management. Thanks to this ongoing applications and implication, more than 250,000 tonnes of polyurethane are recycled and recovered every year – a number which we are happy to see increasing on a daily basis.

Closer to their home, European citizens can witness how environmentally responsible the Polyurethane industry is. Although it is not necessarily obvious – and practically visible – polyurethanes used in everyday applications, such as refrigerators, freezers and other household appliances, contribute to saving energy and resources. And one should not forget the contribution to our industry in food waste prevention!

Ultimately, polyurethanes help saving natural resources and your money! It is worth investing in quality materials, wouldn’t you say?

All in all, whatever direction the European Union or national authorities will take on circular economy and waste management, the Polyurethane industry will always commit to improving its standards and pushing its ambitions forward. .

For more information, please read:

Polyurethanes and the circular economy: we make it happen

Saving resources in Europe: What future for the circular economy model?

Do you have an opinion on the circular economy package and/or what it should look like? Don’t hesitate to engage with us on Twitter and visit our website!

Posted in Innovation, Polyurethanes, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Circular Economy Roadmap: Where will it take us?

Promoting the safe use of Diisocyanates and Polyols along the value chain | 3 Question to Ronald van den Bosch, Chair of the ISOPA Product Stewardship Cluster

In today’s economy managing regulatory pressure combined with product stewardship is of key importance to ensure industrial products’ highest standard.

Particularly for ISOPA, it is quintessential that those involved in producing, selling, using and disposing of products have a shared responsibility in making sure that products or materials are managed in a way that minimises their potential impact, throughout their lifecycle, both from a human health and environmental perspective.

This is why product stewardship programmes are the cornerstones of ISOPA’s activities. Today, Ronald van den Bosch, Chair of the ISOPA Product Stewardship Cluster explains what makes ISOPA one of the leaders in product stewardship.

What is the motivation behind promoting product stewardship programmes? Is there a programme you are particularly proud of?

We can be proud of the holistic approach ISOPA has taken over the years in order to promote product stewardship along the polyurethane value chain. Overtime, ISOPA has committed to providing information and expert advice based on research and data about the health and safety profile of diisocyanates and polyols, the building blocks of polyurethane. This commitment to the chain has scaled up with more and more stakeholders following ISOPA’s example.

All in all through its programmes ISOPA not only promotes the safe use of diisocyanates and polyols along the value chain but maximises its impact through stakeholder interaction.

Good examples are “Walk the Talk”, “One Step Ahead” and the Logistics programmes.

wtt“Walk the Talk” is ISOPA’s programme 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. It is available in 26 languages and since its launch 2006 a large number of employees have received special modular training tailored to the specific situation on their work sites.

OSA“One Step Ahead” is ISOPA’s programme that aims to increase awareness and safety standards on the use, unloading and storage of diisocyanates and polyols in Africa and the Middle East since 1998. ISOPA is planning “One Step Ahead” seminars on a regular basis across the targeted regions in order to provide tailored guidance based on the region’s needs.

logisticsThrough its “Logistics” programmes ISOPA materialises its commitment to ensuring the safe transport of diisocyanates in Europe. After all, it is up to all participants in the supply chain from manufacturers of MDI/ TDI to the transportation company and the receiver of the products to be properly trained in order to minimise the risk for accidents. For this reason, ISOPA has developed a series of tailored material to be used by different members of the value chain in order to ensure the highest levels of safety in the transportation of chemicals. This program was initiated in 1999

Concretely, how have ISOPA’s member companies implemented ISOPA’s guidance?

From the beginning of ISOPA’s product stewardship activities its members have demonstrated their unconditional support to increasing safety across the value chain. They have been participating actively in the organisation of training sessions and events focusing on different aspects of product stewardship, particularly transportation.

For example, every second year ISOPA organises an Emergency Response exercise with Carriers and Emergency Services, followed by a workshop with the Carriers. Historically this has been hosted by one of the Member companies. The objective is to demonstrate that consumer safety is a shared responsibility.

What has ISOPA planned in 2015 to build on its existing initiatives?

Every year, we go a step further – and we’re proud of it. For 2015, ISOPA plans to extend and improve its programs in close cooperation with the Polyurethane product associations with national authorities. More specifically, in the coming months ISOPA will organise:

  • A One Step Ahead Workshop in Casablanca on 27 May 2015
  • The Carrier Safety Days on 21 and 22 September 2015 with live emergency exercise in collaboration with BASF Antwerp

For coverage on these events do not hesitate to take a look at our website and to receive live updates via our Twitter account.


Posted in Innovation, Polyurethanes, Sustainability | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Promoting the safe use of Diisocyanates and Polyols along the value chain | 3 Question to Ronald van den Bosch, Chair of the ISOPA Product Stewardship Cluster

Make your summer 2015 a summer of adventure!

The warmth of sunshine through our windows makes us increasingly think about the summer holidays. Beach, sun, family, friends, cold drink in hand, endless relaxation… and the world seems perfect. You may not know it, but perfection would not be as perfect without polyurethane (PU)!

Prepare yourself for a summer of action thanks to PU!!

Source: OARS

Source: OARS

Rafting is among the most popular recreational activities! One can choose destinations according to their level and love of adrenaline, as any river is potentially suitable for this activity. However, if you are up to the challenge make sure you’re properly equipped with durable life vests and inflatable boats made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is the best option as it doesn’t stretch and performs similarly to hard shell boats.

Source: Lyle Closs

Source: Lyle Closs


Possibly a little time consuming to learn, but definitely one of the most rewarding get-away activities is mountaineering and rock climbing. Perfectly suitable for free spirits and nature lovers it can make you feel like ‘the king of the world’! Nonetheless, no one has ever claimed the Everest without proper preparation and material! Thus, we suggest you start off in the indoor climbing gym where instead of rocks you will most likely find rigid polyurethane holds and be protected with polyurethane coated climbing gears, grips and maybe even a PU carpet to catch your fall! Once you’re ready to roll, grab your climbing shoes and achieve the unachievable!

Source: Glogster

Source: Glogster

Beach lovers only swear on the fun of surfing! The most popular and modern surfboards are made from the wooden strips filled with the fiberglass polyurethane foam. Why PU? Because it makes boards lighter, durable and most importantly a budget-friendly option for the surfers of all levels!


Source: AITO

Source: AITO


Have you ever heard of coastal trekking? This relatively recent activity has gained enormous amount of popularity among inveterate hikers! Coastal lines in Australia, South East Asia and in particular Eastern India have the most favored routes in the world. How is this activity different from the traditional hiking? Apart from the freshness and pleasure from the ocean sway, whist trekking in a coastal line one can experience different types of challenges: heat, big waves, rocks or all put together: the ebb and an unexpected flow whilst struggling to make it through the rocks! Therefore, depending on the course you choose to take, a good swimwear made of polyurethanes to protect your body from the cold and hot (oceans are unpredictable), bumps (rocks) and make you an incredibly fast swimmer (freedoooom!).

Last but definitely not least: swimming with sharks! Do you think it’s too scary? Not for this lady who celebrated her 100th birthday doing just that!

Forget about your fears, pull on a PU swimsuit and jump into the cage to meet a new challenge! For the brave, the best places to do so are South African Sharks Valley, Malaysia or even Egypt.

But most importantly, everything you do, do with enjoyment! Safe, comfortable and long-lasting polyurethane products will accompany your summer wherever you go, allowing it to be one huge and unforgettable adventure!

YouTube Preview Image

Did you like our ideas or have some feedback on our top outdoor activities? Don’t hesitate to engage with us on Twitter and visit our website!

Posted in Innovation, Sports goods, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Make your summer 2015 a summer of adventure!

Building a sustainable future in the EU – Building Renovation & Energy Efficiency

On 25 March 2015, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) published its report ‘Energy Renovation: The Trump Card for the New Start for Europe’ on the challenges and opportunities linked to building renovation in Europe. Taking into consideration the significance of the building sector for the European economy, the report reiterated the importance of building renovation in order to achieve Europe 2020 energy, jobs and growth goals. It also highlighted the necessity to integrate cost-effective technologies in the process.

Europe’s commitment to energy efficiency in buildings

Over the last decade, the European Union has been increasingly committed to improve energy efficiency, especially in buildings. In fact, Europe has set clear targets for tackling the energy consumption of European buildings: by 2020, all new EU buildings should be nearly zero-energy consumption buildings.

In addition to measures for future buildings, European authorities have also formulated actions to further ensure building renovation of inefficient buildings. In turn, besides the 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive that currently frame European regulation on energy renovation in buildings, other national schemes have been set under individual ‘National Energy Efficiency Action Plans’ and national initiatives. More recently, the ‘new’ Commissioners, including Maroš Šefčovič and Miguel Arias Cañete, who hold the Energy Union and Climate Action & Energy portfolios respectively, have also expressed their commitment to promoting energy efficiency – the so-called ‘first fuel’– in renovation in buildings in order to meet EU targets.

Renovating Europe to enhance citizens’ present and future

These European frameworks, combined with national regulations on building energy efficiency, highlight authorities’ awareness of the multiple opportunities linked to renovation. Firstly, it has a crucial impact on the preservation of the environment. For example, the use of sustainable technologies for renovation enables higher efficiency savings while preserving natural resources.

Beyond the environmental and economic aspect of energy efficiency, energy renovation is also key to energy security both for individual citizens and the European Union at large. As has been demonstrated, “buildings consume about 40 % of Europe’s energy and 61 % of all imported gas. Their total cost-effective savings potential until 2030 is estimated at about 60 %. The deep renovation of buildings could reduce the sector’s gas imports by 60 % by 2030 and 95 % by 2050. At the same time, up to 1.4 million additional jobs could be created” (source: Building Energy Efficiency – ISOPA).

Indeed, while the environmental benefits of energy renovation are widely acknowledged, its significant contributions to the job market and EU growth are often less known. With over 14 million workers and about 10% of the European Union’s GDP linked to building-related activities, the building sector is already a significant actor in the European economy (source: Renovate Europe ). Investing in building renovation could enable what President Jean-Claude Juncker committed to: more jobs for Europeans.

In addition, buildings’ actual ‘users’ could benefit from both in terms of comfort and costs. Renovated houses provide for a healthier environment. Innovative materials such as polyurethane increase building’s insulation and indoor quality thus significantly reducing energy bills while increasing the property’s value.

Polyurethane: The future of homes begins now

Polyurethane has increasingly showed its relevance and importance in the building sector at the local, national or European level, thanks to its versatility and sustainability. This is what ISOPA has notably illustrated thanks to its Polyurethanes Passive House featuring polyurethanes solutions in extremely efficient and optimal building envelope. Besides using up to 85% less energy than a conventional building, passive houses “only require[e] the capacity of an iron to maintain comfortable warmth throughout the winter” (Source: Introducing the Polyurethanes Passive House project – See below for further relevant blog posts).

Furthermore, as the technologies to produce polyurethanes keep improving, polyurethane solution especially designed for building renovation, where often insulation thickness is constrained, are increasingly brought into the market, both for professional users and DIY. Without forgetting the obvious environmental positive impact such evolution brings along!

All in all, renovation in buildings is critical to the achievement of EU’s environmental, political, social and economic objectives. And closer to home: a small investment in your house will take both Europe and your comfort a long way.

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

Missed the Passive House construction? Have a look at our past blog posts to see how it went!

  1. Introducing the Polyurethanes Passive House project
  2. Moving forward with the Passive House project!
  3. 2 + 2 = an update on the Passive House project!
  4. Watch out (drum roll please) … here comes the polyurethane Passive House roof!
  5. We’ve done it! We’ve “topped out” the polyurethane Passive House!
Posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency Directive, furniture, Innovation, Passive House, Polyurethanes, Public Policy, Sustainability, Versatility | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Building a sustainable future in the EU – Building Renovation & Energy Efficiency

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

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

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 on Creating chemistry for a sustainable future