Bioplastics, sustainability, and energy efficiency are set to take centre stage at this year's K! fair, which organisers claim will be the "biggest and most international" for the plastics and rubber industries.
Eva Rugenstein, press director with show organiser Messe Düsseldorf, predicted 200,000 visitors and more than 3,200 exhibitors at the show which will run this year from October 16 to October 23.
The K! show, which takes place every three years in Düsseldorf, is run by PlasticsEurope Deutschland, a trade association representing polymer producers.
“Two-thirds of the exhibition space will present machinery for plastics and rubber, and producers of raw material and technical parts will also present their innovations,” said Rugenstein.
The show will open with a presentation on sustainability from Joschka Fischer, former German foreign minister and Vice Chancellor. Green plastics have been trending in the industry in the wake of “Blue Competence”, a sustainability initiative started by the German engineering federation VDMA in 2011.
Bioplastics for breakfast
Bio-based materials for food packaging will be a big focus for K! attendees, Rugenstein predicted, pointing to advances in bioplastics film and multi-layer packaging.
Bioplastics-themed business breakfasts will take place October 17-19, with the first session covering bioplastic use in packaging.
Producers including BASF, a leader in the development of bioplastics, and Celanese, a manufacturer of specialist materials “are all exhibiting at K! and they have something in stock for the packaging field,” said Rugenstein. Celanese’s food affiliate Nutrinova is a maker of sugar substitutes and dietary fiber products.
“Intelligent” machines go green
“One of the main topics is energy efficiency: how to increase it in production or by using plastics,” Rugenstein told FoodProductionDaily.com.
The recent drive in the car industry to reduce fuel consumption has spread to all areas of plastics, she said: “Machine producers are developing machinery that needs less energy and raw materials. Machines are becoming thinner and better.”
Machinery for the plastics industry will become “stronger, intelligent, using less and less raw material for their production,” said Messe Düsseldorf's press director.
This energy efficiency trend is not limited to machinery, Rugenstein added, and K! will showcase development throughout all sectors of the plastics industry, from raw materials to application and processing.
Polymers could help feed the globe
K! has announced a special show called “Plastics move the world“, exploring future applications for plastics, like combatting the problems of demographic growth, energy consumption and climate change.
One conference, “Plastics move – the future” will cover innovations for sustainability including energy-efficient living, water treatment, and the food supply for a growing global population. Speaker will address the use of polymer materials to trouble shoot these problems.
Elsewhere, talks by John Elkington, founder of the think-tanks “SustainAbility” and “Volans” will continue the themes of corporate social responsibility and sustainability development.
Complex issues caused by the plastics industries will also be considered, such as marine debris, which threatens oceans and coasts.