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Conference on Plastic Waste - 30 September 2013

"The role of plastic waste in a circular economy" 

The speakers

Mr. Janez Potočnik,
European Commissioner for the Environment

Dr Janez Potočnik (1958) graduated from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (Ph.D. degree 1993). After a successful career starting in 1989 in Slovenia as a researcher at the Institute of Economic Research, Director of the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (1994). He was appointed Head of Negotiating Team for Accession of Slovenia to the EU (1998). He was also Director of Government Office for European Affairs (2000), Minister Councillor at the Office of the Prime Minister (2001) and Minister responsible for European Affairs (2002). In 2004 he joined the European Commission, first as "shadow Commissioner for Enlargement and then as Commissioner responsible for Science and Research. In 2010 Dr Potočnik became Commissioner for Environment.


Mr. Vittorio Prodi,
MEP, rapporteur of the European Parliament on the Green Paper

Vittorio Prodi, born in Reggio Emilia on 19 May 1937 is a physicist and researcher in the environment protection area. Author of more than 100 papers and of 5 international patents in the field of atmospheric pollution, he has been active in politics since 1992. Among the founders of the political movement "L'Ulivo", in 1995 he was elected President of Bologna Province. Elected Member of the European Parliament in 2004 he has been in the last mandate Vice president of the temporary Committee on Climate Change, full member of the Environment committee and substitute member of the Industry committee; Chairman of EU-South Africa Delegation and substitute member of EU-Palestinian legislative Council Delegation. In this mandate he has been full member of Environment committee, the sub-committee on human rights, substitute member of Foreign affairs committee, member of the delegation with Mercosur, substitute member of the delegation with China and Eurolat. He is now a full member of Industry committee and of the Delegation with US.


Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Twente, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, EPEA Hamburg

Professor Dr. Michael Braungart is founder and scientific CEO of "EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH" in Hamburg. He is also co-founder and scientific head of "McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry" (MBDC) in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA), and founder and scientific head of the "Hamburger Umweltinstitut" (HUI). These institutes share values embracing intelligent, aesthetic and eco-effective Design. Braungart studied chemistry and process engineering, amongst others in Konstanz and Darmstadt (Germany). In the 1980s he dedicated his work to the environmental organization Greenpeace. From 1982 on he was active in establishing its chemistry department, which he took over in 1985. In the same year he received his Ph.D. from the University of Hannover's chemistry department. He founded EPEA in 1987. Since then he has been involved with research and consultancy for eco-effective Products – i.e. products and production processes that are designed for closed loops and do not harm man or nature, but rather contribute to their well-being. He works together with many organizations and companies from different branches; for instance in a partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which has adopted Cradle to Cradle. Today he holds four academic chairs: at the Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University, Leuphana University Lüneburg, University Twente in Enschede and at TU Delft (visiting). In 2013, Braungart was awarded an honorary professorship from TU München in the context of the federal Initiative of Excellence and also received an honorary doctorate from Hasselt University (Belgium). Mr. Braungart is co-author of the "Hanover Principles of Design: Design for Sustainability", which served as the development guidelines for the World's Fair in Hannover in 2000. He also co-authored two books with William McDonough: "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things" in 2002 and "The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance" in 2013. Michael Braungart has received several awards. Among others the "Océ-van-der-Grinten Award" for the development of the Intelligent Product System (IPS) in 1993, the "B.A.U.M. Award" (by a circle of German entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to environment-friendly processing and management) for his outstanding scientific achievements in 1999, the "Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award" from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2003 and the "Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award (SEA) of Excellence" for his exceptional commitment to the promotion of sustainable entrepreneurship in 2013.


Ms. Cosima Dannoritzer,
documentary film maker

Cosima Dannoritzer is a documentary filmmaker specialising in history and ecology who has worked for broadcasters in the UK, Germany and Spain. Her last documentary, 'The Light Bulb Conspiracy', has been sold to 21 territories and screened at more than 150 festivals and events, raising awareness about the phenomenon of planned obsolescence. She is currently working on a film about e-waste trafficking. Previous films include:

  • Re-Building Berlin (Channel 4, U.K., 1992, Journalism Prize of the Anglo-German Society 1993)
  • Germany Inside Out (BBC, U.K. / YLE, Finland, 2001)
  • If Rubbish Could Speak (TVE, Spain, 2003, awards from 'Ekotopfilm' and the 'Green Vision Film Festival')
  • Electronic Amnesia (TVE, Spain, 2006) .

Click here to watch the video.


Mr. Ton Emans, Plastics Recyclers Europe

Ton Emans has more than 20 years experience in plastic recycling process. He is Director Group Recycling. Ton Emans started his career with DSM in Geleen, the Netherlands and worked as researcher in the field of environment and safety. In 1991, he relocated to a subsidiary of DSM called REKO, a company which started to recycle plastics in 1979. As a Quality, Environment, Safety and Health Manager he became familiar with plastic recycling. After the merge with Wavin Re-use into Arena Recycling he was named of Purchasing Manager. After the bankruptcy of Arena Recycling in 2000 Ton searched for a new owner for the site in Geleen and found CeDo willing to buy her own recycling plant. He was named Managing Director. In 2004, Ton Emans extended his responsibilities and moved to Mönchengladbach, Germany where he was named Supply Chain Managing Director of CeDo Group. Ton Emans holds a Master of Science in occupational health and safety from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and has completed several business programs. In 2009, Ton Emans has been named Vice President of Plastics Recyclers Europe (EuPR), a non-profit organization whose members are European plastic recyclers. Since 2011 Ton is the Plastics Recyclers Europe President, the association which represents National Associations and Individual companies covering 80% of the European market. Plastics Recyclers Europe focuses on the promotion of plastics recycling and the creation of conditions which enable profitable and sustainable business.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Dr. Heather Leslie, VU University Amsterdam

Dr. Heather Leslie is a scientific expert on marine litter: the waste in our sea that consists of plastic to a large degree. Her background is in environmental chemistry and toxicology, where she developed an in-depth understanding of the toxicity and behaviour of chemical additives that leach from plastic polymer materials. From her permanent position at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the VU University in Amsterdam, she leads a 17-partner consortium in the European FP7 CleanSea Project dedicated to the marine litter issue ( She co-chairs the United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) working group 40, which is currently carrying out a global assessment of microplastics in the marine environment. She works together with UNEP in the Global Partnership on Marine Litter that was launched at Rio+20, where her work provides a basis for discussions regarding future global marine litter monitoring and selected measures to reduce plastic emissions to the sea. She performs research on microplastics commissioned by the Dutch government and recently took the lead of a scientific group providing input to the Joint Program Initiative (JPI) Oceans pilot project on microplastics. Dr. Leslie values the power of interdisciplinary collaborations and works on the plastic waste and other pollution issues with natural and social scientists, NGOs, industries, policymakers, coastal community networks, musicians, filmmakers, engineers and industrial designers and regularly organizes and participates in stakeholder meetings. Realizing the power of design to predetermine a low end-of-life environmental impact of the (plastic) products we make, she now also lectures on sustainable design in the Postgraduate Industrial Design program at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague, collaborating with young professional designers on getting designs right for nature as well as for the market.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Dr. Olwenn Martin,
Institute for the Environment, Brunel University

After completing her studies in the United Kingdom where she still resides, Olwenn Martin joined the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London where she studied on their Master Programme in Environmental Technology, followed by doctoral studies. As part of her doctoral research, she developed decision-making tools to help evaluate the sustainability of policy and risk management options related to the occurrence of endocrine-disrupting compounds, more specifically oestrogenic compounds, in sewage effluent. Whilst in the Centre for Environmental Policy, she also took part in several projects on aquatic pollution before joining Professor Andreas Kortenkamp’s team in 2010. Building on a background in both natural and social sciences, her research interest lies with developing solutions to the practical challenges of translating science into policy. It is focused on emerging issues for the risk assessment of contaminants, such as mixtures and endocrine disrupters, in the context of the suitability of existing legal instruments, more particularly the REACH Directive and Plant Protection Products Regulation. She was involved in writing the State of the Art Assessment for Endocrine Disrupters, a project also commissioned by the European Commission and is currently working on a project funded by the Oak Foundation related to the challenges to account for mixture effects in the regulatory context.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Prof. Dr. jur. Helmut Maurer, European Commission

Prof. Dr. jur. Helmut Maurer graduated in law from Würzburg University, he holds 2 State Exams in law from Freestate of Bavaria, Germany and a PhD in comparative employment law from Trier University, 1990. Helmut Maurer worked as an advocate for civil law and public planning law in Frankfurt. He obtained different tenures as professor and presently holds a chair for European Union law and international commercial law at Technische Hochschule Nürnberg, Georg-Simon-Ohm. He joined the European Commission in 2002 as principal lawyer, first working in Directorate General Employment on European employment law and policy, in 2006 he joined Directorate General Environment working on infringements and presently on waste implementation issues and waste policy .



Mr. Bernd Nötel, VDMA Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V.

Bernd Nötel is project manager for plastics and rubber machinery technology. After studying mechanical engineering he worked for some years in the design and construction department of manufacturers of plastics and rubber machinery. In 1988 he joined the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), responsible for technical issues. Some of his individual and team projects tasks include environmentally relevant topics, such as energy efficiency as well as recovery of used plastics. For many years he has been supervising an expert group of manufacturers of plastics and rubber recycling technology, representing the high level of innovation capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's).

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Dr. habil. Thomas Probst, Bundesverband Sekundärrohstoffe und Entsorgung e.V. 



  • Thomas Probst, born 1961 in München, Germany.
  • Chemist, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D., University Lecturer.
  • Study of Chemistry from 11/1981 to 04/1988 at the Technische Universität München, Germany.
  • 05/1984 B.Sc.
  • 04/1988 M.Sc.
  • Ph.D. work 04/1988 to 03/1991; at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, TU München.
  • 12/1999 Appointed Private Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry, TU München.

Professional History:

  • 1991 to 2001 Research scientist, laboratory head, and research group leader, Institute for Radiochemistry, TU München.
  • Chemistry Experiences: Inorganic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Radiochemistry, Environmental Chemistry.
  • Since 08/2002 Senior Consultant at the bvse, Federal State Association on Secondary Raw Materials and Recycling, Bonn/Berlin/Brussels.
  • There consultancy in recycling of plastics, toxic and hazardous wastes, biological materials, landfills, REACH & CLP.
  • Since 2010 lecturer at the RWTH Aachen, Germany.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Dr. Arthur ten Wolde,
IMSA Amsterdam

Before joining IMSA Amsterdam as a Senior Consultant in 2006, Arthur worked for eight years as Advisor Technology Policy for the Confederation of Netherlands Industries and Employers VNO-NCW. He has a PhD in physics and is a certified polymer technologist. He also worked for Shell and for the STT Study Centre for Technology Trends.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Prof. Richard Thompson,
Plymouth University

Richard is a Marine Biologist specialising on the ecology of shallow water habitats. Much of his work over the last decade has focused on marine debris with 25 publications on this topic. In 2004 his team published the first report on the presence of microplastics in the environment in the journal Science. Subsequent research examined the extent to which microplastics were retained upon ingestion and potential for microplastics to transport persistent organic pollutants to organisms. In 2007 he was invited as lead guest editor for a 200 page volume of Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B, focusing on Plastics, the Environment and Human Health. He is a co-author of the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive Task Group 10 on marine litter and has recently prepared two reports on marine debris for the United Nations Global Environment Facility: Marine Debris as a Global Environmental Problem: introducing a solutions based framework focused on plastic (2011) and Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status and Potential Solutions (2012).

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Ms. Rie Tsutsumi, UNEP Regional Resource Efficiency Coordinator

Rie Tsutsumi has been working on Sustainable Consumption and Production for the Pan-European region at UNEP Regional Office for Europe (Geneva) since 2002. She is running a project package "Sustainable Consumption for Europe" - sustainable life style, education, policies, infrastructure and business opportunities. She holds a M.Phil in Environment and Development from Faculty of Earth Science and Geography, University of Cambridge, UK.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.


Ms. Geanne van Arkel,
Interface (carpet manufacturer)

Geanne has a creative, strategic approach for business development and embedding sustainability within an organization and is working for Interface for over ten years. She sees sustainable development as a key driver for innovation. She believes full product transparency based on life cycle assesments will be the driving force for sustainable innovation. Geanne is focussing on cross-sectoral cooperations in the circular and biobased economy , creating inclusive business models. Therefor she is using the principles of both biomimicry, The Natural Step and The Blue Economy. In her opinion sustainability is about applying a new set of values so you can start to see success through a fresh pair of eyes. It's about redefining the long game while being more efficient in the short - building a better, smarter business. Interface is a worldwide leader in the design and production of high-quality, innovative modular floor coverings. Interface was one of the first companies to publicly commit to sustainability, when it made a pledge in 1994 to eliminate its impact on the environment by 2020 and to become a restorative company. This goal influences every business, manufacturing and design decision made and underpins all dimensions of the company: people, process, product, place and profit. In 2012 already 49% of the company's raw materials were recycled or biobased.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.
Click here to watch the video.
Click here to download the Addendum 1.
Click here to download the Addendum 2.