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Circular economy @K2019

Source:International Plastics News for Asia

Date Published:10/9/2019 10:10:09 AM

At this year’s K show, more than 3,000 exhibitors from around the world present their innovations to the global market. One hot topic is circular economy in plastics.
Plastic products have become an important part of almost every area of life. In food production, plastic packaging helps extend shelf life of food; in automotive, plastic parts and components enable lightweighting and reduction in CO2 emission; in medicine, plastics ensure compliance to hygiene standards and safety of medical products. Despite its many applications, this material has come into disrepute for some time now due to the plastic waste that pollutes entire regions and floats on the world’s oceans. Initiatives have been taken to conform to the concept of “circular economy,”  which has become a hot topic at K 2019, the world´s flagship fair for plastics and rubber, which will be hosted from October 16 to 23, 2019 in Düsseldorf/Germany. 
 
The idea at the root of the circular economy concept is quite simple: once used, valuable raw material can be processed at the end of its service life and be reused to create a new product - in an infinite loop. While some materials have limitations that do not allow this, a vast array of polymer materials are perfectly suitable for this approach. A circular economy dramatically reduces waste and also protects the resource of crude oil, because wherever new products are made from recycled plastic, there is no need to use raw, i.e. previously unused, materials.
 
About 70 years ago, plastics became a mass product. The University of California estimates that about 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics have been produced since then. Particularly in the wake of the strong population growth in many parts of the world, plastics production rates have shot up in recent times. The survey shows that the figures rose sharply: from 2 million tonnes of plastics produced in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017. Accordingly, the world has witnessed a substantial rise of plastic waste and is now faced with an urgent question: how to manage plastic waste sensibly? Two pressing problems are at the root of this complex challenge: littering and the unrestricted use of resources, which not only damages the environment but also slows economic growth. 
 
At this year’s K show, over 3,000 exhibitors from more than 50 countries will attempt to offer their innovations to alleviate the plastic waste problem and move towards a circular economy in plastics. 
 
K 2019, known as “The World’s No. 1 Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber” occupies the entire Düsseldorf exhibition grounds with some 175,000 m² of net exhibition space, and more than 200,000 trade visitors from all over the world are expected to come to the event.
 
K 2019
 
K is the performance barometer for the entire industry and its global marketplace for innovations. For eight days, the “Who’s Who” of the entire plastics and rubber world will meet here to demonstrate the industry’s capabilities, discuss current trends and set the course for the future. K 2019 underscores its special position not only through its popularity with the global industry but also by addressing the current challenges faced by various sectors dependent on plastics.  
 
At K 2019, the subject of recycling management will not only cover a large amount of space at the exhibitors' stands, but will also feature prominently in the supporting programme. For example, the circular economy is the dominant topic at the "Plastics Shape the Future" special presentation hosted by PlasticsEurope, and the VDMA is organising the "VDMA Circular Economy Forum." At the entrance gates to K 2019, the "Touch Points Circular Economy" will attract the trade visitors’ attention to this topic and point out relevant exhibits in the various halls.
 
Four hot topics have been chosen for K 2019 by the academics and experts from the K 2019 Innovation Group: Plastics for Sustainable Development & Circular Economy, Digitisation and the Plastics Industry 4.0, System Integration: Functionality through Material, Process and Design, and Young Talents in the Industry.  One major element of K 2019 is international networking and the easiest way for exhibitors and visitors to make contact in the digital age is through the new smart Matchmaking Tool, which provides an ideal platform for finding new contacts quickly and conveniently and for networking with them. The tool can be accessed through the K online portal https://www.k-online.com/matchmaker2 for visitors, and at https://www.k-online.com/matchmaking_exh_2. The K App is also available for download. For more information, visit: www.k-online.de.

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