The 2019 China International Plastics Recycling Exhibition and the 22nd China Plastics Recycling Conference (ChinaReplas2019) was held this week in Suzhou International Expo Centre on 7th – 8th November. The conference, which brought together over 130 exhibitors, was supported by the China Synthetic Resin Association, China Scrap Plastic Association, and the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisation. Alex Zhang, International Development Director of the British International Education Association (BIEA) was invited to attend and deliver a keynote speech entitled “STEM (Stop) the Tide of Plastic Pollution”, alerting the audience to the theme of BIEA 2020 International STEM Youth Innovation Competition and BIEA 2020 STEM Conference.

In his speech, Alex referred to the technological revolution over a hundred years ago that resulted from the invention of synthetic plastics but he also highlighted how the revolution that was intended to benefit people has triggered today’s environmental disaster. BIEA is committed to encouraging youth to use technology to find solutions to tackle contemporary social and environmental issues and recently announced the theme of the 2020 International STEM Youth Innovation Competition “STEM (Stop) the Tide of Plastic Pollution”. The competition challenges young people to use science and technology to solve the problem of plastic waste in our oceans, in line with the rationale and ethos of “ChinaReplas2019”.

The annual BIEA International STEM Youth Innovation Competition targets young people aged 9-21. Each year the competition has a different theme, which addresses a worldwide environmental or social issue. Competitors are required to use STEM to find solutions, integrating humanity with science and technology. The competition comprehensively trains and enhances STEM skills in young people through technical report writing, oral presentation, technical development, mission execution, evaluation and teamwork.

BIEA and China Synthetic Resin Association, the organiser of ChinaReplas2019 have recently begun a strategic partnership which aims to encourage young people to address the problem of plastic pollution via STEM. The two organisations will work together to promote the BIEA 2020 International STEM Youth Innovation Competition, jointly organising youth activities on the theme of plastics and establishing education exchange platforms and training in the field of plastics for young people, both in China and globally.