Universitat de Girona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3072-3078
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.0650
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
The increasing environmental awareness in our society demands for new educational strategies in the mark of universities to integrate and engage students in the path towards a circular economy and a more sustainable development. In this transition, engineers play an important role in issues such as design, manufacture, and eventual use and disposal of products, which underlines the necessity to introduce sustainability concepts into all engineering disciplines to fulfil the existing void in the curricula. In this sense, one of the main problems that our society is facing nowadays and that engineers should be aware of is our dependence on fossil resources and the problems derived from the management of plastic-made products. According to recent data, 40 % of the plastic produced is destinated to packaging, which is used just once and then is discarded. As a result, bioplastics have the potential to address some of the challenges proposed by conventional plastics in the field of packaging.

LEPAMAP+PRODIS is a research group from the University of Girona which aims at the development of novel materials derived from fossil resources with the purpose of contributing to greener methodologies and products. The research group developed a demonstrative experience addressed to third year chemical engineering students where the participants could interact with different types of bioplastics, observe conventional plastic transformation techniques, and different packaging design strategies. So far, the experience could be divided in three main objectives:
i) rise environmental conscientious amongst students,
ii) integration of students through their direct participation and
iii) acquisition of theoretical skills related to sustainability and circular economy.

The success of the experience was evaluated via the direct supervision of the teacher, a satisfactory survey and a brief theoretical test about the issues discussed during the demonstration. It was observed that students showed great enthusiasm and participation throughout the whole experience. However, the great interest exhibited by the students contrasted with a clear lack of knowledge in this field, uncovering the need for sustainability education in the mark of engineering.
Sustainability, educational experience, packaging, chemical engineering, bioplastics.