Three Minutes on Sustainable Packaging

Machteld Simoens, our newest Circulus team member, won first prize in the 2020 3MT Competition of the Graduate School for Environment, Society and Global Change. Curious about Machteld’s approach to studying sustainable packaging, her research goals, and the 3MT competition? Then read on and enjoy the video below!

“An 80.000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present. You have 180 seconds. Make them count.” With this announcement, the Graduate School for Environment, Society and Global Change at the University of Freiburg invited graduate students to participate in its annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition on March 4th, 2020. Machteld Simoens took on the challenge and presented the objectives of her Ph.D. research on sustainable packaging.

The rules of the 3MT are simple but strict. Apart from the time limit, only a single static slide is permitted and no additional electronic media or attributes can be used. A jury comprising three professors from various disciplines evaluates the ease of comprehension and content of the talk as well as the engagement and communication skills of the speaker before deciding on the winning presentation. Currently, 3MT competitions are held in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries.

As an innovative form of science communication, the 3MT challenges the participants to present their scientific research in an interesting and understandable manner. Machteld found the latter criteria especially challenging: “In communication with my colleagues and peers it is normal to use words that are familiar to us, like agency, transitions, or circular economy. However, in three minutes, there is no time to explain these concepts in detail and you have to find other — easier — ways to get your points across. This makes the 3MT a very effective way of reflecting on if what you are doing and thinking also makes sense to others.”

By the Chair of Societal Transition and Circular Economy of the University of Freiburg