This year’s K, the largest plastics trade show in the world so far, stretching over a whole week from 19 to 26 October 2016, drew 3,285 exhibitors and about 230,000 visitors from more than 160 countries to the mammoth Messe Düsseldorf, Germany. That’s a 5.5 percent increase in visitors compared to the K 2013 (the K show is held every three years).

Besides the latest developments in world-class machinery technology for the production, processing, and recycling of plastics, the exhibitors at this year’s K show focussed on the three major themes of material innovation, resource efficiency, and sustainability.

More than 40 bioplastics companies, including many members of European Bioplastics, presented their products, new innovative bio-based materials, and latest developments in the field – another record high that is testimony to the rapidly increasing demand for sustainable plastic solutions and the importance of bioplastics for the future success of the plastics industry in the light of the transition towards a circular economy.

For a list of all bioplastics companies present at K 2016, please click here (with courtesy of bioplastics Magazine).

Here is a selection of some of the bioplastics innovations presented at K 2016:

Plastic Packaging Circular Economy Group announced: One of the main attractions was the special show ‘Plastics shape the future’ organised by trade association PlasticsEurope Deutschland, with seven theme days packed with talks, keynote speeches, and panel discussions that focussed on functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability of plastics. PlasticsEurope announced the formation of a new Plastics Packaging Circular Economy Group that will be working on maximising the potential of plastics in delivering superior resource efficiency gains within the circular economy. “If managed the right way, I am convinced the Circular Economy, this massive innovation capability in Europe, will contribute to overcoming some of the environmental challenges we are facing,” said Patrick Thomas, President of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Covestro. “Plastics is already contributing to resource efficiency in the EU and we are still wasting resources that could have a second life. Every tonne of plastics that goes into landfill is utterly ridiculous.”

Novamont, a leading producer of bioplastics and biochemicals based in Italy, presented a new heat resistant grade of Mater-Bi with a high bio-based material content and compostable according to the European standard EN13432. The material is perfectly suited for the production of plates, trays, cups and lids, and became the preferred choice of Milano Restorazione, the provider of school meals in Milan’s schools. Novamont also presented its recently developed technology for producing hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), and a series of polymers for captive use, based on the roots of the cardoon crop, which will enable the production of the fifth generation of Mater-Bi as well as a series of ocygen and carbon dioxide barrier products. FDCA is the basis for PEF. PEF has superior product properties such as an improved gas barrier, a higher modulus and a lower melting point compared to petro-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a less sustainable alternative which PEF can replace.

Braskem, the largest thermoplastic resin producer in the Americas and a leading producer of biopolymers, showcased its growing global presence and its increasingly innovative and sustainable product portfolio, including its ‘I’m Green’ polyethylene (bio-based PE). In a LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) workshop, Braskem invited visitors to better understand the contributions to mitigate the impacts of global warming through a negative carbon footprint of ‘Green PE I’m green’. After first assessing the LCA for their Green PE in 2014, Braskem has now updated the study. The new LCA study will be presented at the 11th European Bioplastics Conference by Yuki Kabe, Braskem’s LCA specialist.

BIOTEC, a leading producer of starch-based biodegradable plastics based in Germany, presented three new grades, BIOPLAST 300, BIOPLAST 400, and BIOPLAST 500, with a bio-based carbon share of 30%, 40%, and 50% respectively. These products are plasticizer-free and GMO-free and are certified “OK Compost” and “OK Compost HOME”, fulfilling the highest requirements of the German bio-waste directive for biowaste bags and the French legislation for fruit and vegetable bags.

FKuR, a German-based specialist for technical bioplastics solutions, presented two new compounds – Bio-Flex FX 1120 and Bio-Flex FX 1130 – based on a newly developed technology for the production of compounds that can be processed into flexible packaging films with particularly low thickness and, at the same time, high puncture resistance. Films made from these materials feature a bio-based content of 50% or higher, depending on the type, they are suitable for food contact and certified as compostable according to EN 13432.