A terrible grief has hit our community. On August 14th Mario Malinconico, an active member of the Milan Polymer Days scientific committee, suddenly passed away at the age of 66. We want to pay homage to Mario by first of all recalling the salient features of his scientific career.
Mario Malinconico was Research Director and Head of the Synthesis and Chemical Modification Laboratory of Polymers at the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) in Pozzuoli, Campania, where he held roles of increasing importance since 1983. Mario was one of the leading Italian experts in biopolymers and bioplastics, as well as in the valorization of plastic waste. He published more than 170 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and numerous book chapters on polymer science and technology and was co-inventor of 15 patents. He was regularly invited to international congresses to lecture on polymers for sustainable development and biomaterials and was leader of many international and national research projects in the same fields.
Mario loved teaching and held specialization courses on biodegradable polymers at several editions of the International School of Polymer Materials in Ferrara, Italy, and at the University of the Andes, Bogotà, Colombia. He also supervised numerous national and international doctoral theses on polymers and composites.
Thanks to his outstanding competence, Mario Malinconico held numerous important positions both nationally and internationally. Since 2002 he chaired the “Polymers for the Environment and Cultural Heritage” committee of the Italian Polymer Federation (AIM). In 2004 he was the winner of one of the three awards on Sustainable Technologies held internationally by the University of St Andrews, Scotland, for his research on polymers from renewable sources.
In 2010 he was appointed by the President of CNR as the Italian representative at the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). In 2011 he participated in the hearing at the Higher Institute of Health, convened by the Guarantor Authority of the Market and of the Competition, and subsequently at the technical table, convened at the Italian Ministry of the Environment, for issues relating to the legislation on biodegradable packaging and for the definition of the fields of application of the same. In 2011 he was appointed President of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the Italian “Assobioplastica”. In 2012 he joined the Board of Directors of UNIPLAST, the National Body for regulations in the plastics sector. In 2013 he was awarded the IUPAC Distinguished Chemistry Award and the “St Andrews Prize for the Environment” for studies on biodegradable and natural polymers. In 2014 he was appointed Coordinator of the Scientific Council of “Knowledge for Business”, the Italian branch of CIBIC, China-Italy Business Innovation Center, based in Naples and Beijing. Since 2017, he served as President of ATIA-ISWA (Association of Italian Environmental Technicians -International Solid Waste Association). Since 2019, he was the Italian representative at the International Science Council.
In addition to his intense research activity and important managerial responsibilities, Mario Malinconico was a passionate communicator and dedicated himself to dissemination to the general public by participating in numerous communication events, including television broadcasts, and through interviews in newspapers and publications on social media. Since the very first edition, Mario Malinconico was a supporter of the Milan Polymer Days events, to which he contributed as a member of the Scientific Committee and as a speaker. On February 2021, he also participated in the MIPOL-related dissemination activity “Talking with the scientist” – Italian edition, with an interview on “Bioplastiche tra sfide ed opportunità” (Bioplastics between challenges and opportunities). In the last months, we were working on common dissemination projects related to his participation in the EU project “Bio-plastics Europe”. Advertising this event will be for us a way to honor his memory.
It is not surprising that the news of Mario's death was followed by a long sequence of commemorative articles in the newspapers and, last but not least, a wealth of heartfelt messages from friends and colleagues on social networks, testifying to his great charisma.
Goodbye Mario, our dear friend, you were a great man in life. We had the privilege of sharing friendship, love for science and ideals with you, and it is now difficult to accept that we must continue our journey without you. We will do our best to pass on your teaching to young generations, inspired by your enthusiasm, your generosity and dedication.
Always with love,
Paolo, Elisabetta, Amedea, Jenny and all the other friends of the Milan Polymer Days community.