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“The Plastic Age” requires good education of children: what ORLEN Unipetrol Group is doing in the Czech Republic

So far, 26 Czech primary schools in the Central Bohemian Region and the Ústí Region have joined the unique Plastík and His Magic Suitcase project. It will offer schoolchildren an excursion into the world of chemistry using various entertaining experiments.

The educational programme is based on a licence of the foundation of the German association Plastics Europe that has been immensely popular during its 20 years of existence. Today, it is available at every other primary school in Germany. In the Czech Republic, the scheme is provided to selected schools exclusively by the ORLEN Unipetrol Group, the largest refinery and petrochemical company in the country.

It should spur the children’s interest in natural sciences through experiments with plastics. Within this project, schools have received an educational package consisting of a suitcase with an experiment set, workbooks for children, an instruction manual for teachers and other materials worth 550,000 Czech Koruna (approximately 21,600 euros) in total. 

“Plastics are a characteristic material of today’s times,” commented Katarzyna Woś, Vice-Chair of the ORLEN Unipetrol Group’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Board of Directors of the ORLEN Unipetrol Foundation that provides an umbrella to the educational programme in the Czech Republic. “Therefore, it is important and useful to know about them as much as possible so that the next generation understands how plastics are created and how to handle them in terms of a sustainable future. It also applies to the youngest schoolchildren. Plastík’s magic suitcase serves as a building block for instructing natural sciences at school age. Experiments described in it introduce the topic of plastics to children with experiments. We believe that we will succeed in bringing natural sciences closer to the next generation.”

The educational suitcase can be found in half the schools in Germany where Plastík comes from. 

“Sustainability brings a host of new challenges that are inseparable from the knowledge of plastics, their features and methods of recycling,” added Tanja Rühl, Communication Department of PlasticsEurope Deutschland. “Therefore, the Plastics Europe association initiated the Kunos coole Kunststoff-Kiste – Plastík and His Magic Suitcase – programme as part of its collaboration with primary schools. In Germany, Plastík has celebrated 20 years of existence. During this period, we have distributed 17,500 sets.”

During two workshops in Most and Kralupy nad Vltavou, Group representatives handed over the suitcases and accompanying materials to 26 schools in the Ústí Region and Central Bohemian Region. Among those, the Libiš primary school.

“[…] At first, we introduce various types of plastics to the children and tell them how to distinguish them from one another,” explained Eva Hobíková, head of the group and teacher’s assistant. “Then, they can see the examples of plastics on objects of daily use. The most popular experiments are when they can try plastic characteristics in practice.”

For instance, the children look into how plastics break down in water and soil, which plastics can protect them against an impact, and how to make plastics. 

The ORLEN Unipetrol Group plans to manufacture up to 20 per cent of its petrochemical products from recycled materials by 2030. It recognised social responsibility as one of its top priorities when creating its sustainable business plan.

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