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The new plastics economy: circular business models and sustainability

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About This Course

BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE - Developing and Implementing Sustainability – Based Solutions for Bio-Based Plastic Production and Use to Preserve Land and Sea Environmental Quality in Europe

The massive online open course “The new plastics economy: circular business models and sustainability” is realized within the Horizon 2020 BIO-PLASTICS EUROPE project funded by the European Commission.
The course is led by Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna with the scientific contribution of 16 project partners from 11 different countries and many guest speakers from public and private sectors. The aim of this course is to improve learning capacity and professional skills of students, researchers, young entrepreneurs, managers, and practitioners operating in the plastic value chain.
The course is characterized by a multidisciplinary approach, addressing legislative, technical and managerial issues related to the so-called New Plastics Economy with a focus on the bio-based and biodegradable plastics industry.

This MOOC is structured in 4 weeks, in addition to a WEEK 0 course introduction. Each week has modules and units consisting in listening, reading, roundtable, and success stories in the form of interviews.

  • WEEK 2 - Bio-based and biodegradable plastics materials: the technical perspective
  • WEEK 3 - Bio-based and biodegradable plastic waste: the normative perspective
  • WEEK 4 - Bio-based plastic materials and products: the business perspective

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 860407.


No prerequisite knowledge is required.

Quizzes and scores

The course includes quizzes that will be evaluated and each correct answer is counted as 1 point.

The course is considered successfully completed if the participant answers correctly at least 60% of the questions in total.

After successfully completing the course you can download and print out the Certificate of Accomplishment.

Certificate of Accomplishment

The Certificate of Accomplishment will be released to anyone who successfully completed the course by answering correctly to at least 60% of the questions.

You will be able to download the Certificate of Accomplishment directly on "Progress" tab inside the course.

The Certificate of Accomplishment does not confer any academic credit, grade or degree.


For further information, see FAQ page.

Course Professors



SARAI AGUSTIN has earned her Ph. D. in Biosciences at the University of Sonora in 2017. Since 2018 she works at IPCB-CNR. Her research interests are polymers, food packaging, composites, and food chemistry. She is currently working with bio-based polymer formulations, natural coatings, biocomposites, and natural antioxidants. She has authored numerous publications and book chapters, and has taken part in several international conferences as speaker and invited speaker.



GENC ALIMEHMETI is Research Fellow at Department of Management, University of Bologna. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and Management. Genc studies sustainable business models and investigate how to enable transition toward circular economy and helping companies in understanding the benefits of switching from fossil-based plastics toward Bio-plastics materials.



JAVIER ASPERILLA joints UPM as a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. With experience in the polymer research field, he has a strong background in Material Science, which allow him to wonder about the properties of the material and their environmental impact. For this reason, after pursuing a Master's Degree in Circular Economy, Javier has decided to focus his research on biopolymers as an alternative to conventional polymers.



Dr. ANITA EMMERSTORFER-AUGUSTIN is a scientist at acib in Graz. She did her PhD at Graz University of Technology in Molecular biotechnology and graduated with honors. As an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow she spent two years at the University of Berkely, where she focused on receptor endocytosis in the lab of Prof. Jeremy Thorner. In 2018, she came back to Graz and as a senior postdoctoral researcher she takes part in several acib projects, being the H2020 project “Bio-plastics Europe” one of them.



SELENA AURELI is Associate Professor of Business Admini-stration and Accounting at Bologna University. Beforehand she has held several teaching positions at University of Urbino, Italy. During her career, prof. Aureli has attended to several conferences and given speeches at foreign Universities as visiting professor. Authors of numerous publications on leading international journals, her major research interests are in the field of performance measurement, sustainability, and business reporting.



JELENA BARBIR joined the FTZ – NK team in 2019 as an expert in the H2020 project management. With nearly 10 years of experience in the H2020 and HE proposals development, she now leads the BIO – PLASTICS EUROPE project, founded by Horizon 2020 Program. She has a strong background in sustainable development, conservation of biodiversity and environmental sciences. Her current research focus stands on environmental sustainability, bio – based and biodegradable solutions and climate change.



ANTOINE BARTASSOT obtained a Master's degree in Business from ESC Troyes. In Natureplast, Antoine is in charge of export sales since 2020. He is an expert in bioplastic materials and their market.



LAURENT BÉLARD R&emp;D manager, with a degree in Materials Engineering from the Ecole Européenne d’Ingénieurs en Génie des Matériaux (EEIGM) in Nancy and a PhD in Materials Chemistry from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Laurent has been in charge of managing R&emp;D activities for the company since 2011. Since 2002, he has an expertise in Research and Development in bioplastic materials, their formulation, and their transformation. He is in charge of the technical management of the collaborative projects.



FREDDYS R. BELTRÁN (PhD.) is an assistant professor at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, in Spain. His main research line is the study of mechanical recycling as an end-of-life scenario for biodegradable and biobased plastics, with special focus on poly(lactic acid) (PLA). Other research interests include the development of alternative packaging materials made from biobased and biodegradable plastics, and the distributed mechanical recycling of 3D printing and cutlery PLA wastes.



ALESSANDRA BONOLI is Full Professor in Raw Material Engineering at the University of Bologna. Her main research and education topics are related to the Engineering of Transition, Raw Materials and Circular Economy aiming to build a sustainable world, from environmental, social and economic points of view, according with SDGs EU Agenda. She is Member of the European Commission Operational Group of Raw Materials and delegate to the United Nations in the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.



SAMANTHA CAPUTO is a lab technician and project assistant at Ticass-Innovative Technologies for Environmental Control and Sustainable Development, in Genoa, Italy. She is a chemist involved in Research &emp; Innovation on sustainable development, including bio-based plastic materials as well as promoting transition to circular economy. In this context she coordinates the implementation of the experimental activities in the BIO – PLASTICS EUROPE project, founded by Horizon 2020 Program, towards the next generation of bio-based biodegradable plastics. She has previously worked in the field of Green Chemistry to design “eco-friendly” chemical syntheses by preventing waste and using no toxic substan-ces to either humans or the environment.



PAOLA CERRI, Sales & Marketing Manager of Sacchital Group, has over 30 years of experience in the packaging industry. Following the master’s degree in Accounting, Financial Management and Control at University Luigi Bocconi (Milan, Italy) in 1992, she joined to the family business serving as Chief Financial Officer within the Administration Department. After five years, she decided to focus her career in Sales Department, having a pivotal role in International Business Development of Sacchital Group. Today she is also in charge of Corporate Marketing Activities.



ZHI KAI CHONG completed his Master’s in Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). Since 2019, he has been working as a researcher and a PhD Candidate at the Institute of Circular Resource Engineering and Management (CREM) of TUHH. His research focuses on increasing the circularity of plastic packaging, including circular systems for bio-based plastics.



DAVIDE COLLINI is Chief Executive Officer of B-PLAS S.b.r.l., a firm specialized in engineering and manufacturing of fully automated industrial plants for transformation of wastewater sludge into PHA. Dr. Collini has more than 20 years of experience in Research and Development activities within Machinery industry as Head of R&emp;D in Diemme Filtration and Aqseptence Group. He awarded a Master of Science in Chemistry and a Ph.D in Chemical Sciences at University of Bologna.



MAËLLE COURVALLET has obtained a Chemical Engineering Degree from the Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Organique et Minérale of Compiègne. Maëlle has been in charge of managing client and collaborative projects since 2020. She is an expert in bioplastic materials, their formulation, and their transformation.



ELEONORA FOSCHI is an environmental engineer and a Junior Assistant Professor at the Department of Management of the University of Bologna and the Bologna Business School where she holds the Waste Management and Circular Economy course. She is also involved in the multidisciplinary research activities of the Centre for Sustainability and Climate Change of the School. Her scientific contributions actually converge on the measurement of sustainable corporate performance and the design and validation of circular business models.



Dr. SIMON GÖLDEN is a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute LBF in Darmstadt, Germany. He is a polymer chemist with a focus on polymer additivation and processing. His main research interests are in sustainable applications including bio-based plastic materials, electrocaloric materials as well as promoting transition to a bio-based economy. He has previously worked in another disruptive field and developed 3D-printed medical devices.



ANNIKA HOLMBOM has a PhD in economics and business administration, as well as an MSc in chemical engineering. Her strengths lie in finding knowledge from vast amounts of information, combined with skills in chemistry and an interest in sustainable development. Annika acts currently as a Senior Lecturer within the Circular Business Models Research Group, at the Turku University of Applied Sciences, located in Turku, Finland. Annika has an interest in problem solving and is always curious about learning something new. She loves to be innovative and explore new ways of doing things, especially when it comes to promoting sustainable. development and teaching students about circular economy.



SEAH KIAN HOE (“Kian”) is the founder and managing director of Heng Hiap Industries (HHI), a fully integrated plastic recycling company established in 2002. Kian developed Smart Plastics to address plastic manufacturers’ need for high quality, customized recycled plastic resin. In the last 18 years, Kian and HHI have won multiple accolades for business leadership and product innovation – the more notable ones being: the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) in the World in the category of environmen-tal leadership (2013), The Edge newspaper of Malaysia named him “The Michaelangelo of Recycling” (2018) and most recently, Frost and Sullivan awarded HHI “2020 Malaysia Smart Waste Solutions Technology Innovation Award”.



ANNA-SARA KRÅNG is a Senior Researcher in Marine Ecolo-gy/Ecotoxicology at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. She works broadly on the effects of pollutants such as microplastics, heavy metals and underwater noise on marine life, particularly crustaceans and other invertebrates. She also works with development of sustainable mariculture. Before starting at IVL in 2016, Krång was a researcher at the Univ. of Gothenburg, where she holds a PhD (2007). She is currently involved in several international and national research projects on the fate and effects of plastics.



Prof. Dr.-Ing. KERSTIN KUCHTA is the head of the Institute of Circular Resource Engineering and Management (CREM). She is a process engineer with a PhD in Civil Engineering and leads the group with a focus on polymer recycling, circular (bio) economy, recovery of construction materials such as concrete as well as general waste resource management.



ARGO KUUSIK received his Masters of Science diploma in Environmental Engineering from Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia 2010 with a specialisation in water engineering and he’s doctor degree from Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia 2017 on Determining biogas yield from industrial biodegradable waste. He is researcher and lecturer at TalTech. His scientific interests include conventional and advanced wastewater treat-ment, mainly in rural areas, and organic solid waste management. He has worked as an engineer for a water and wastewater engineering company.



GUILLAUME LEBOUTEILLER with a Chemical Engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Ingénieurs in Caen (ENSICAEN), is an expert in bioplastic materials, their market, and their formulation. Since 2007, Guillaume has provided support to hundreds of partners and clients in their bioplastic products development process. He is also in charge of the administrative and technical management of the collaborative projects.



THOMAS LEFÈVRE with a degree in International Commerce and in marketing, is the founder and President of Nature-Plast / BiopolyNov. He is an expert in bioplastic materials and their market since 2005.



PAVLO LYSHTVA received his MSc diploma in Environmental studies from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine in 2018. Further, he decided to continue his education in Europe, and he received MCs degree in Environmental Engineering and Management from Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia in 2020. Now he is a doctoral student at Tallinn University of Technology doing his research in the assessment of biodegradability of bioplastic materials under aerobic conditions. His research interests include the conduction of the biodegradability tests of promising materials and wastewater treatment.



SILVIA MALTAGLIATI is Policy Officer at the European Commission, Directorate General Research Innovation, working in the unit “Circular Economy and Biobased Systems”. She works on EC strategies and policies supporting research projects in EU in the field of bio based industrial sectors, with a special focus on the environmental sustainability challenges of supply chains and value chains in those sectors. She holds a master's degree in Physics and a PhD in Industrial Engineering.



VALENTINA MARTURANO has earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering (University of Naples Federico II) in 2017 and since 2019 she is Researcher at CNR-IPCB. Her research interests are bio-based polymer formulations, sustainability of plastic materials, smart materials, chemical synthesis of stimuliresponsive materials, active food packaging solutions. She has authored more than 20 publications in international journals, 3 book chapters and she is editor of 1 book. She took part in several international confe-rences as speaker and invited speaker. She is currently involved in international and national projects.



DANIEL MENACHACA MARTINEZ, Telecom Engineer (Univer-sidad de Zaragoza) with a master’s degree in project management with more than 19 years of experience leading with European Projects of the FP7, H2020, ECSEL, Erasmus+, Climate KIC, Cascade Founding... but also in other national and regional programs. Now, working in the field of smart waste management and bio-plastics with a strong committed to the environment and the Circular Economy as part of Ecoembes’ The Circular Lab.



LUIGI MERSICO is Research Fellow at Department of Management of Bologna University working on Bio-Plastics Europe Project. Beforehand he obtained a Ph.D. in Economics at University of Urbino and served as a consultant for three years at European Projects, Innovation and Development Business Unit of Sinergia Consulenze (Pesaro, Italy).



LUKAS MIKSCH is a PhD student in marine ecotoxicology/bio-chemistry at the German Alfred Wegener Institute Hemholtz Centre for polar and Marine Research. Lukas research addresses the degradability of conventional as well as bio-based and bio-degradable plastics in the marine environment. Moreover, he studies the effects of plastics and associated chemical additives on the marine biota. Before he started his PhD, Lukas investigated the effects ofbacterialinsecticides on vertebrates using different cellular and biochemical markers



PAULINE MOREAU with a Material Science and Enginee-ring degree from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées in Lyon, Pauline has been in charge of managing client and collaborative projects since 2019. She made an internship in NaturePlast in 2014, and came back 5 years later to join the team!



CARMINE PAGNOZZI is Technical Director of Biorepack since 2021 and former General Manager of Assobioplastiche. He received a master’s degree in both environmental engineering and, enginee-ring and economics for the environment and territory from Roma Tre University. From 2003 to 2017 He served as expert consul-tant at the Italian Ministry of Environment on matters of remediation of contaminated sites, waste management, hydrogeological instability mitigation, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and climate change adaptation, and in various ministerial commissions for technical-economic analysis and evaluation as well as in commissions for the verification and testing of projects and interventions of both public and private competence. Since 2002, he has lectured in university courses as environmental and innovation expert in circular economy.



ANGELO PALETTA is Full Professor of Business Administration with expertise in corporate governance, management control and strategic management of economic performance. He is currently head of the Department of Management at Bologna University. His current research interests include circular business models, cost management, performance management, and private-public partnerships.



CLARA PEDROSA is PhD candidate at Department of ChemicalEngineeringof Technical University of Madrid (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM). She is a ChemicalEngineer,and her thesis is focused on studying the feasibility of mechanical recycling of bio-based plastics and developing upgrading methods to improve their properties. She hopes that the production of bio-based plastics continues increasing so that recycling routes can be implemented for those materials.



AMÉLIE RAINGUÉ with a Chemical Engineering degree from the Ecole Européenne de Chimie, Polymères et Matériaux in Strasbourg, Amélie has been in charge of managing client and collaborative projects since 2016. She is an expert in bioplastic materials, their formulation, and their transformation.



TOMAS RYDBERG works at IVL Swedish Environmental Institu-te in Gothenburg since 2005. He is Senior Researcher at IVL and is one of the pioneering researchers in Sweden in Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Management, from the 1990s and onwards. Assessing emerging technology paths, within bio-economy and chemicals management as well as recycling technologies and other circular economy options has been a core component in his research in the past years.



Dr. GABRIELLA SANTAGATA is full time researcher at the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the National Research Council. The main activities concern the preparation and chemico-physical characterization of bio-based polymers, blends, biocomposites, bioactive packaging films, biodegradable plastic films for agriculture. Her expertise concern the use of the following techniques: DSC, DMA, TGA, FTIR, UV-Vis, tensile test. Head of IPCB-CNR for national and European projects (BPE). Co-author of about 75 documents (ISI-ISSN), 1 patent, more than 15 Proceedings to Conferences Contemporary hindex=22



ŽANETA STASIŠKIENĖ, Director of the Institute of Environ-mental Engineering Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). Experience under UNEP DTIE was transferred to Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Tanzania, Russia and covers areas of Sustainability assessment, sustainable innovation and development of environmental project financing schemes, infrastructure activity plans for Spain, Central and Eastern Europe, South-East Africa, Asia Countries.



EMMA STRÖMBERG works as an expert in polymeric materials at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. She works with projects concerning use, collection and reycling of plastic mateirals. Prior to her position at IVL she worked as a resear-cher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Her research has been focused on the environmental interactions of polymeric materials, material properties of conventional polymers and recyclates, biobased materials and composites. Her current work addresses solutions for circular systems and design for safe and sustainable materials.



MASSIMO VERONELLI began his professional career in 1984 at COMITAL, BASF's Italian plastics distributor. In 1987 he moved to BP Chemicals, where he undertook an international career in the plastics sector, first as Sales Manager and then as Product Manager in the PO and Styrenics Business Units in Milan (Italy), Geneva (Switzerland) and finally in Lille (France). In 1996 Mr. Veronelli joined to Nord Color S.p.A., an Italian independent technopolymer compounder as Sales Manager and then as Managing Director. In 2015, Nord Color S.p.A. was acquired by Sirmax Group, in which Mr. Veronelli now serves as Director of Global Sales of Green Economy Business Unit.



MATTEO VIGNOLI is Assistant Professor at Department of Management of Bologna University. He received his PhD from the University of Padua, and he was Visiting Scholar at Stanford University and Ryerson University, member of SUGAR network and CBI @ CERN. Delegate for the University of Bologna Open Innovation Initiatives @Almacube, Founder and Trustee of the Future Food Institute. Matteo's focus is "building the future" through research, education and entrepreneurship with the application of Design Thinking Innovation. His work appeared in journals such as: Research Policy, Creativity Innovation Management, Computers &emp; Operations Research.



KATRIN WEINHANDL is science communicator and expert for funding programs at acib. She studied microbiology. After working in the lab as a project assistant until 2015, she joined the Scientific Coordination and Business Development team, where she is responsible for EU project applications. She gained insights into science communication and PR, and leads dissemination and communication in several projects. She is co-organizer of the European Summit of Industrial Biotechnology (esib).