H.F. Mark Sustainability Award 2023 goes to bpc specialties

The H.F. Mark Sustainability Prize 2023 was awarded to bpc specialties in Vienna on October 12, 2023.

The prize was proudly accepted by Dr. Oliver Brabänder at a ceremony. The H.F. Mark Sustainability Prize is generally awarded for concepts that make plastics more sustainable and environmentally friendly or that bring a high degree of innovation to this topic. And this refers not only to pure plastic solids, but of course also to plastics used in cosmetics. The heart of bpc specialties GmbH's research and development is chitosan and its complexes, which are used as multifunctional raw materials and active ingredients. What is interesting for cosmetics is that these special chitosan biopolymers serve as a substitute for microplastics (crosspolymers) and silicones in hair and skin cosmetics and herald a whole new era of hair and skin cosmetic formulations in terms of skin compatibility, hypoallergenic properties and environmental compatibility. bpc specialties has set itself the goal of pushing brands that promote such sustainable biopolymer-based products and thus influence the general compatibility potential of hair and skin cosmetics and realize many other applications with them.

The bpc specialties is pleased to see itself motivated to consider the following plastics sectors in the future with regard to research, development and general promotion:

  • Development of polymers with chitosan compounding to give plastics multifunctional surface properties - such as antimicrobial surface properties.
  • Development of medical cosmetics based on biopolymers to completely replace crosspolymers and silicones in the hair and skin cosmetics sector.
  • Continuous encouragement of a hypoallergenic, cosmetic lifestyle within the framework of public relations.
  • Continuous stimulation of a better general understanding around biobased plastics - because without them a sustainable future would be hardly imaginable

In addition to the H.F. Mark Medal, the H.F. Mark Sustainability Prize was awarded for the first time on the festive evening.

The award ceremony...

Background on H.F. Mark - on the founder of the award:

H. F. Mark was born in Vienna. Mark was interested in natural sciences from an early age. After graduating from school, Mark first served as an officer in World War I. Still during the First World War - while on convalescent leave as a result of a war injury - Mark began studying chemistry at the University of Vienna, ultimately earning a doctorate in chemistry "summa cum laude" in 1921. In the same year, he went to the University of Berlin as an assistant with his doctoral supervisor Wilhelm Schlenk, where the latter succeeded Nobel Prize winner Emil Fischer. Just one year later, Fritz Haber, discoverer of ammonia synthesis and director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry (KWI, now the Fritz Haber Institute), invited H. F. Mark to work with him in the newly founded Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Fiber Chemistry; Mark then moved to Berlin-Dahlem with his wife Mimi.

At KWI in Berlin, a talented group of scientists was investigating molecular fiber structures. The researchers quickly realized that X-ray diffraction was a suitable tool for crystal structure studies. In his five years in Berlin, Mark became a crystallography expert.

In 1926, the director of the research laboratory of I.G. Farbenindustrie (later BASF) in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Kurt Heinrich Meyer, offered him a position as deputy research director.

In addition to basic scientific work, however, Mark was also concerned with the practical application of polymeric materials, attempting for the first time the commercialization of polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl alcohol, and the first synthetic rubbers. Mark helped I.G. Farbenindustrie become one of the leading manufacturers of new polymers and co-polymers. He completed his habilitation at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, where he served as an adjunct professor.

After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Mark, whose father was Jewish, followed the advice of his director and went to the University of Vienna as professor of physical chemistry. During his six years in Vienna, he developed a new curriculum for polymer chemistry and continued his research in macromolecules. He also represented the new polymer sciences internationally, to the chagrin of Staudinger, who had remained in Germany and was not allowed to travel abroad. He was a member of the Education Committee and chairman of the Committee for Wood Utilization in the Austrian Ministry of Trade. After Austria's annexation by Germany in 1938, he was briefly arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo on March 12 (he had held a wake at the coffin of the assassinated Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß and helped Jews like Max Perutz to escape). Therefore, in April, Mark fled with his family via Switzerland and France to England, from where he took a ship to Canada. There he first worked in the paper industry before emigrating to the USA a short time later with the help of his contacts at the DuPont company.

As Herman Francis Mark, he entered the Polytechnic Institute of New York in Brooklyn in 1940 - first as an associate professor, and finally two years later as a full professor; in addition to this activity, he also worked for the DuPont company as an expert and consultant.

In 1944, Mark founded the Institute of Polymer Research at the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn - the first research institution in the U.S. devoted exclusively to polymer research; he presided over this institute as director until 1964.

Hermann Mark died on April 6, 1992, at the home of his son in Austin, Texas