Germany is out of breath; Britain has Brexit; the world economy is slowing down; the “anti plastic” movements are radicalizing; lawmakers are orienting themselves accordingly … Manufacturers of plastic products must face very demanding challenges and at K they will reveal the latest technological achievements. Which is rushing onwards, prodded by the brand owners in search of new sustainable packaging.

Great figures

More than 3,000 exhibitors, from over 60 countries, will be attending the world’s largest plastics and rubber trade fair, around 400 of which Italian. K 2019 occupies the entire Düsseldorf exhibition center (175,000sqm net) and expects at least 200,000 specialist visitors from all over the globe in search of technology and information on market trends in a #plasticsfree era.

This year’s historic triennial event takes place at a particularly “hot” time for the economy in general in the sector’s industry in particular, prompted by problems featured everyday in the general media. Which is why the current edition promises to be particularly interesting.

Environment and Industry 4.0

Among the current issues, those related to the circular economy predominate, which is already to be seen in how the exhibition has been structured, where the special “Plastics Shape the Future” area highlights solutions to hot problems such as packaging waste, marine waste and climate change on the one hand, and resource savings, energy efficiency and circular economy on the other. Similarly, the K 2019 Science Campus – where the dialogue between research and industry is presented and relaunched – gives ample space to sustainability issues. And the presentation of the VDMA (the German association of machine and plant manufacturers) and associated companies does the same, being entirely directed towards the Circular Economy.

In parallel, under the umbrella formula of Industry 4.0 the dimension of digitalization and interaction of processes represents the revolution taking place at manufacturing level. Thus the entire production chain that starts from the material, going by way of R&D and reaching processes was the object of the attention of the scientists and experts of the “K 2019 Innovation Circle” and the hot topics featured and analysed on the fairs website: now we will see them “live” by visiting the stands.

Packaging is growing

In order to avoid misunderstanding, however, we must add that plastic processing activities are growing. In Germany, the GKV industry association documents, last year turnover grew by 3% or more, or twice the GDP. And, more generally, the sector studies (the statistics of the Italian Packaging Institute, for example) envisage a further growth of plastic packaging, above all of the flexible kind.

These trends are not  only supported by the difficulty in finding effective alternatives to traditional plastic in different applications. There is also the result of the enormous efforts that the industry is making to deploy recycled materials, new forms of recycling and recovery and bioplastics of various kinds, with the resulting “trail” of machinery and processes – efforts that fuel new segments, often with a high rate of profitability, in the sector. And which are supported and prodded by the  leading consumer brands, committed in unison to reassuring the consumer about their commitment towards protecting what remains of our planet.

The 4th issue of Converting, K’s media partner and which is distributed to visitors, contains initial information on the offer on display: in the feature articles, advertising pages and on the special cover of the magazine. And in the coming issue, a special report drawn up by the magazine.