DUESSELDORF, Germany—European plastics and rubber leaders kicked off K 2019 by acknowledging plastics' role in the waste problem and pledging the industry would do its part to find long-term solutions.
"Never before has the industry put the sustainability and recycling at so high a priority and also to train the public how to use the plastics more responsibly," Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Duesseldorf GmbH, said at the opening news conference on Oct. 15. The trade show opened Oct. 16 in Düsseldorf.
Dornscheidt said K 2019 has four themes.
"The top priority is sustainability," he said. The three other themes are digitization and Industry 4.0; the integration of processes and design, for things like intuitive operator controls; and attracting young people to the plastics industry and training them.
K 2019 comes at a pivotal time for the plastics industry, which has come under criticism from environmentalists. The K show brings together more than 200,000 visitors to tour 3,300 exhibitors from 67 countries. Of the total exhibits, about 40 percent are German companies.
"It's a unique business information platform," Dornscheidt said.
Ulrich Reifenhaeuser said K 2019 also will highlight moves to a circular economy, although he said that will not happen overnight. The industry has to change, said Reifenhaeuser, chairman of the K 2019 Exhibitor's Council.
"This is a good point in time for this and for the plastics market in general," he said.
He said packaging is a big issue on the environmental stage: "We have a plastics packaging problem overall, and that's got something to do with plastics waste."