The Center for the Polyurethanes Industry announced June 13 that Debbie Mielewski, Ph.D., a sustainability expert, will deliver the keynote speech at the opening session of the 65th Polyurethanes Technical Conference on Sept. 25 in San Antonio.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Mielewski back to CPI’s annual conference,” said Lee Salamone, senior director at CPI. “Dr. Mielewski joined us at the 2019 Conference and inspired us with her vision for the future of sustainability in our industry. We are eager to have her return to share what she’s learned along her journey to sustainability since then, during a time when the world has experienced so many changes in viewpoints, business practices, technology and more.”

Mielewski recently retired from a 36-year career at the Ford Motor Company, where she was the technical fellow of sustainability. During her tenure at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center, she worked on automotive paints, polymer processing and new materials development. In 2000, she pioneered a biomaterials program at Ford, when “being green” was not popular in the industry. Her team was the first to demonstrate a soy-based foam that met all the requirements for automotive seating, which led to the material being launched on the 2008 Mustang. As of 2022, over 15 industry-first, sustainable materials have appeared on Ford vehicles through her and the team’s efforts. Mielewski recently established her own company to share her knowledge with the hope of accelerating sustainable materials’ development across industries and would like to inspire students and others to bring more earth friendly materials to the market.

“I am beyond delighted to be back at the CPI conference giving the keynote speech,” Mielewski said. “The world is changing quickly, and it is imperative to use sustainable principles in the fight to reverse climate change. I’ve expanded my viewpoint beyond automotive and will be presenting recent thoughts on the roadblocks to achieving sustainability goals and sharing examples of progress and success.”

The 65th Polyurethanes Technical Conference will take place Sept. 25-27 at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio. Registration is now open for this premier event, which will feature discussions on key regulatory and policy issues, educational sessions and the latest innovations in the polyurethanes industry.