Impression from K2019 featuring Total Corbion PLA, Novamont, Sukano, IKT, FKuR, Aimplas, BASF, Mitsubishi Chemicals

After eight days (16 until 23 October) packed with major events, smaller dialogue forums and even more bilateral discussions, the leading global trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry closed its doors in Düsseldorf. With approx. 225,000 trade visitors from 165 countries and 3,330 exhibitors from 63 nations the K successfully defended its title as leading business platform. From day one, it was clear that the industry needs operational circular economies along the complete material chain. This is why visitors as well as exhibitors took great interest especially in sustainable raw materials, resource-saving processes and recycling systems.

To European Bioplastics (EUBP) it was therefore not surprising that our booth in hall 7a had a lot of traffic and was amongst the key contact points for stakeholders from all sectors interested in bioplastics. During these eight days EUBP distributed thousands of fact sheets, position papers, brochures, and leaflets. Although many of our visitors were still interested in introductory information on bioplastics, the majority already came with very specific questions on market data or material properties. But also the industry itself has matured significantly since the last K in 2016. “We observed a strong increase of investments in the representation of bioplastic companies. The industry has gone through a remarkable professionalization in the past”, said François de Bie (Total Corbion PLA), the EUBP Chairman. “Especially the controversy over plastics has forced brandowners and companies to look for more sustainable solutions“, explained Mr de Bie.

Many of these solutions are provided by EUBP members, which presented some of their latest innovations at K2019. E.g. Mitsubishi Chemical Europe GmbH introduced the first certified home compostable coffee capsules by Golden Compound, and FKuR promoted its innovative Terralene® rPP compounds, which combine the advantages of bioplastics and recycled plastics. On the scientific side, the EUBP member Institut für Kunststofftechnik at the University of Stuttgart informed visitors about the great variety of products that are produced from bioplastics. The scientists set up an artificial tree with bioplastic products, such as shoes, plates, bottles etc., which were provided by other association members.

At the EUBP booth we also informed visitors about our advocacy work with the European Parliament, the EU Commission, and other European institutions. Among other topics, the Single Use Plastic Directive and its implementation as well as the current Commission project of defining criteria for when a plastic product should preferentially be made from certified compostable plastic lead to many lively discussions. EUBP observed a high level of uncertainty amongst industry stakeholders regarding the implications of the new regulations for their business. This included the conventional plastic side as well as stakeholders from the bioplastics industry.

With K2019 closing its doors, the bioplastics industry is already looking towards the next major event for the sector, which is already around the corner: the Interpack 2020 in May. EUBP is looking forward to meeting you again in Düsseldorf next year.