Germany: K 2019 Plastics and Rubber Industries Underscore Importance of Circular Economy

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

The 3330 exhibitors at K 2019 emphasized the necessity of having operational circular economies along the complete material chain and presented concrete solutions. The approximately 225,000 visitors from 165 countries took great interest in recycling systems, sustainable raw materials, resource-saving processes.

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K 2019 showed: Circular Economy is “Hottest Ticket” for the Global Plastics and Rubber Industries.
K 2019 showed: Circular Economy is “Hottest Ticket” for the Global Plastics and Rubber Industries.
(Source: Messe Düsseldorf / ctillmann)

Düsseldorf/Germany — The motto of K 2019 “Reflect. Re-Think. Think Laterally. Think Afresh.” was mirrored at the exhibitors’ stands. The global trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry provided guidance and perspectives, set sustainable economic impulses, showed forward-looking trends and concrete approaches. The industry and its professional associations enjoyed the opportunity to present sector-specific solutions and debate questions of socio-political relevance on a global scale. Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the Exhibitor Advisory Board at K 2019, highlighted that global demand for innovative machinery and raw materials was particularly high right now, despite the current tensions in world trade or the business climate in some consumer sectors.

The nations especially well represented on the part of visitors after Germany were Italy, the Netherlands, India, Turkey and China, followed by the USA. Furthermore, a marked increase in the number of trade visitors from the Russian Federation, Japan and Brazil could be registered. The number of executives among visitors rose slightly yet again: to the tune of 68 % came from top or middle management. With over 90 %, visitor satisfaction was again at a top level. While for German trade visitors increased efficiency ranked first as the currently most important issue, the expansion of product and service portfolios was in the foreground for European and non-European trade fair guests.

International Interest in Recycling Technology Was High

K was able to score points as a premiere platform where many trend-setting products and applications were presented to the world public for the first time. According to Reifenhäuser, the innovations were not only admired, but also many concrete negotiations were conducted and contracts signed. “We found the propensity to invest extremely high and across all nations. In particular, business with new customers was very positive this year. We are also confident about very strong follow-up business,” says Reifenhäuser. For the guests from throughout the world investment in expansion ranked particularly high on the list, especially in extruders and extrusion lines. The survey among visitors also showed that the interest in machinery and equipment for plastics reclamation and recycling was noticeably higher abroad than in Germany.

Flexible materials — rubbers and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) — also proved a fixture again. Although the elastomer segment has traditionally been smaller than the plastics range at K, there was a high number of companies presenting elastomer-specific products and services — be it raw materials, additives and compounds or special machines and equipment for reclamation and converting.

The extensive supporting programme at K 2019 boasting keynotes and high-calibre discussions such as on renewable energies, material efficiency or zero-waste production met with avid interest among the international audience, especially the Special Show K 2019 “Plastics shape the Future”. This year the innovative power of the material and the industry in terms of resource-saving processes, digitalisation, functionality, renewable energies, circularity and sustainability were centrestage. And such critical themes as marine litter, the throw-away mentality associated with plastic packaging and the use of finite resources for their production were not ignored either. Proving one of the highlights was a humanoid robot that was built during the trade fair by young researchers from Fab Lab Lübeck e.V. serving as an example to show where developments are headed in future when additive manufacturing and robotics are combined with cutting-edge materials such as plastics.

At the Science Campus both exhibitors and visitors to K 2019 were given a condensed overview of scientific activities and results in the plastics and rubber sector. Numerous universities, institutes and funding agencies provided opportunities for direct dialogue.

The next K Düsseldorf will be held from 19 to 26 October 2022.

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