Finding ways to solve the world’s environmental challenges was a key theme of Arçelik CEO Harkan Bulgurlu’s IFA NEXT keynote.
An avid outdoorsman, Arçelik’s Harkan Bulgurlu showed several photos from his many journeys to some of the world’s most-coveted tourist locations during his IFA keynote.
“I used my Everest climb to raise awareness to what some call climate change, but what I call climate catastrophe,” Bulgurlu said. He recalled taking his children to Thailand’s Maya Bay, where instead of admiring the beauty of the area, he had to carry them through knee-deep layers of plastic. “This is happening because most developing countries are increasing their use of single use plastics,” he said. “Rapid and substantial action has to happen now. Sustainability is no longer just something nice to have – it is a business model.”
Arcelik is working with researchers in universities around the world, on how to rethink the world’s relationship with plastics. “Why not take old plastic and re-use it?” he asked.
WHAT SOME CALL CLIMATE CHANGE, I CALL CLIMATE CATASTROPHE.
This idea has led to Arçelik’s development of a washing machine drum made from recycled plastic bottles. “In South Africa we decided to develop a solar fridge and consumers invested in this.” Bulgurlu said.
And while this model costs more than a conventional fridge, Arçelik research has found that consumers are nonetheless happy to pay the extra. “But more importantly, the fact that the South African government put money into the project, means that more people in Africa can afford a fridge.” And thinking further outside the box: “If we can find a biodegradable plastic, we can imagine burying our fridge in our front yard and in five years it has gone. This has to be the way we go. “
Where others see waste, Arçelik sees something that can be used for new products. “Microplastics in the oceans overwhelmingly come from your clothes,” he said. “Unfortunately no one has filtration that can capture these. But Arçelik has now built a washing machine that will filter micro plastics.” He said he hopes that competitors might also take this research on board. Arçelik is in a position to do something about the world’s environmental challenges and simply must, Bulgurlu said. And while it costs more, the choice ultimately remains with the customer. “Now is not the time to procrastinate. Our planet needs us now. This is not just for us, our customers also demand this”.
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Photo: Hakan Bulgurlu CEO, Arçelik