The 44th ACS Central Regional Meeting

Dr. Martine Vermeulen - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

 Plenary Lecture

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“Building Blocks for a Sustainable Future: A European Perspective”

Martine Vermeulen, Ph.D.

Global Manager of Product Safety & Regulatory Compliance, Dow Corning Corporation (retired)

Abstract

The presentation gives an overview of where Europe stands today in terms of greenhouse gas emission, waste reduction and “green energy” production. The role of the EU Commission will be explained. Some country-specific initiatives as well as a couple of ambitious projects sponsored by industrial groups aimed at moving away from fossil energy will be described. 

The European Union-related information has been obtained from the EU publication office and the EU statistics are available online. Country or project information comes from TV documentaries, specific Internet sites, newspapers, radio news and personal contacts or visits. 

Biography

After having obtained my PhD at Brussels University in the area of physical organic chemistry and spectroscopy, I started to work at IBM-Belgium as a Systems Engineer and specialized in networking/telecommunications. I spent a few years as a teacher and class manager of the IBM International Education Center located in Europe where I much enjoyed working in a multicultural environment. This is one of the reasons why I joined Dow Corning (DC) in 1990.

After four years in the DC-Information Technology Department managing the European network, I realized that it offered limited development possibilities and I missed not being able to contribute to the core business. I was very fortunate to be given this opportunity by joining the regulatory compliance group that was dealing with the European chemical regulations related to safety, security and environment. This was the ideal move as it allowed me to use my chemical background while developing an expertise in the complex world of regulations which are not always harmonized across Europe, not equally enforced in the different EU countries and not necessarily easily available in English. For example, one big challenge was to produce product safety data sheets for about 30 countries and the same number of languages, which were compliant and in a correct language.    

I stayed fifteen years in the “DC - Product Safety & Regulatory Compliance” department; beginning in 1994 as a regulatory specialist, then in 1998 as the head of the EU group and finally in 2001 as global manager with regulatory experts located in the US, Belgium, France, Germany, UK, Australia, China, India, Japan and Korea. It was obvious that being familiar with the diversity of cultures, languages and regulations within Europe helped me a lot to address the even more complex Asian challenges.  

I stayed in this interesting and exciting position until I retired in 2009.