Every now and then we need to go back and ask the question, what advice would you give to yourself as a teenager? When I was 16, I was very focused on chemistry and enjoyed making my first biopolymer trials in the high school lab, failing completely – which, we should not forget, is also a result. Nevertheless, they triggered something that has followed with me ever since. That modified starch probably never came to the market – at least, I never heard about the outcome of the project we carried out for a global chemical giant.
If I should decide now what to study, for me to enable a living, meaningful job, happiness in life etc – I would still choose chemistry, with organic synthesis and polymer technology – but I would complement it with two other aspects: environmental economics to be able to fully evaluate and explain the value of nature vs man-made products and secondly psychology.
Why on Earth is psychology important to bio-based plastics? The human mind is the most complex machine ever created. The entire issue about addressing climate change or plastic waste issue is all about change leadership: determining how to change human behavior, which changes need to be implemented, why, where, and how we communicate the message to everyone else in such a manner that there is limited room for confusion and mistakes and the solutions get implemented with success.
Having 7,5 billion people on the Earth, we have the same number of opinions, people with different levels of education, but we know we cannot continue on the current linear produce and throw-away economy. Bio-based plastics offer a great solution. Plastics are already a solution, they have solved numerous issues in logistics, food storage, durability, light-weighting and cost. Now it is our task to demonstrate what can we reach with bio-based plastics. What I am saying, is that we have to make up our mind, ‘Simplicity is a virtue’ said Ingvar Kamprad and I fully agree – polish up our strategies, messages and targets as an industry.
There is no us or them, there is no competition in that sense: it is just the humans as part of the nature. That is where we need to make bio-based plastics fit the story as a key solution.
This post was written by Tomi Nyman
Tomi has 20 years of experience in business development, strategy and business head functions in the chemicals and bioplastics business.
He has set himself a career target of cutting global emissions by 1 Gt and aims at turning the global plastics production bio-based.
He has expertise in bio and circular economy, value chain creation, disruption, materials technology, synthesis, polymerization, sustainability and responsibility, IPR, sales, marketing and strategy.
He holds an MSc (Tech) in chemistry and polymer technology from Helsinki University of Technology (Aalto University). Tomi works as CCO at Woodly and is a board member at Kamupak.