At the 8th of May I participated as one of 50 people in the German final of the European Youth Debating Competition. The competition was initiated by PlasticsEurope and the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and organized by young leaders GmbH, which offers a lot of educational events and conference formats for people who have demonstrated leadership skills in different fields. After the Check-In in the Dorint Kongresshotel in Düsseldorf on Saturday evening we had the chance to meet the other members. Early in the morning we went to the Rheinisches Landestheater in Düsseldorf-Neuss where the final was held. According to the topic of the debate „How would you imagine the future? With or without petrochemical industry and plastics” we started in groups to clarify our opinion. As all participants were divided in fixed speakers and free speakers and into pro- and con-fraction we talked in little groups of four people with professional trainers about the way of presenting.
After we had lunch, the competition was opened by the president of the debate. Afterwards we heard one professional statement from the pro-fraction, held by Dr. Josef Ertl, president of PlasticsEurope in Germany, and one from the con-fraction, held by Dr. Onno Groß, president of Deepwave e.V.. In order to give every person the chance to present their statement one round was always opened by a fixed speaker. Afterwards four free speakers were allowed to present their statement, followed by a fixed speaker from the con-fraction and four more free speakers. This was repeated five times and then the debate was closed by a summarizing statement by a fixed speaker form every site. Every speaker had one minute to present his or her statement. During the time the jury had to choose the three winners who are invited to the European final in Budapest, the participants had the chance to relax and to talk about the debate. Unfortunately, I was not announced as one of the winners during the ending ceremony, but the whole competition made a lot of fun and I gained lots of experience in debating in English. Moreover, I had the chance to meet very friendly and inspirational people and to make new friends among them.
As a free speaker I decided to give a perspective of a future with a better handling of plastics than it is the case today. I delivered my statement as the following, but beforehand it has to be said that I needed crutches to walk in front because of an operation two weeks ago:
“First of all, I would like to thank the plastic industry. Because without their products I would have hardly been able to walk up here. But to be serious, we have a problem in our today´s world. It is the problem of producing. We concentrate on producing plastics and unfortunately producing a lot of waste. Nevertheless, a fundamental change is happening in our world. Two days ago I read an article in the New York Times about establishing a fee on plastic bags in supermarkets in America. Everybody, who has been to the United States knows, this is kind of a revolution.
More importantly this change is happening in developing countries. As old PET-bottles are used to build houses, people, who would have never been able to buy a house made out of expensive materials, get access to a home for the family.
This is the future I imagine. The future of reusing plastic materials to create a bigger value for people all over the world.”