A future-proof plastics industry will include biobased products and a closed loop of production and product recycling.
Kunststoffenbeurs is the annual trade show for the Benelux plastics industry to share knowledge, celebrate innovation and make cutting-edge advances visible. The goal: sharing knowledge to help the industry in the fight against plastic pollution, colloquially known as plastic soup. As with previous editions, the 2022 Kunststoffenbeurs will also pay extensive attention to sustainability, recycling, redesign, and reduction of CO2 footprint.
In this article, we share an overview of the initiatives found at Kunststoffenbeurs 2022, held at Brabanthallen, 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, on 14 and 15 September.
A future-forward plastic industry
The Dutch government has set the ambitious goal to achieve 50% less raw material consumption in 2030 and implement a full circular plastics economy by 2050. The European Union-wide goals are just as ambitious and include banning all single-use plastics and increasing the demand for recycled plastics.
The circular economy is an economic model that practices producing materials designed to be used to their highest potential and can be circulated within the system without the release of harmful emissions. This guarantees to secure finite resources and facilitates sustainable growth.(3,4) This model has a positive impact on the well-being of people, society, and planet Earth by enabling sustainable growth and securing resources for the future.
As an innovative sector, the plastics and rubber industry is at the forefront of this ambitious change and is continuously working on making (end) products more sustainable. For example, 30% of all plastic waste in the Netherlands is recycled or reused and more and more plastics are biobased or biodegradable, while the use of raw materials such as petroleum is significantly reduced.
Sustainability does not stop at the (end) product. The industry works on the entire (production) process: from energy saving in production to process optimization and the overall reduction of the CO² footprint. NRK and PlasticsEurope are collaborating for the event to bring the latest developments and possibilities in plastics sustainability and have organized a side-event called Rethink Expo.
Further information on sustainable plastic applications at the Sustainability & Recycling Area (stand 366 to 396).
Kunststoffenbeurs keynote highlights
As the meeting place for the entire plastics and rubber chain, the Kunststoffenbeurs is the platform to jointly address the opportunities and challenges that sustainability entails. Several keynotes will go into detail on how the industry can join together to build a robust plastics future.
At Kunststoffenbeurs 2022, innovations expert Martin van Dord will present a keynote about achieving a more sustainable plastics future and lower CO2 emissions. Van Dord will provide insight into how the industry is working towards the circular economy and outline the benefits to businesses and consumers. In addition, the lecture will cover details about the tools available to developers, designers, and constructors to design products circularly.
With all ambitious change comes challenges and hurdles. Accelerating the plastic circular economy is no different. As part of the 2022 Kunststoffenbeurs program, the director of Plastics Europe, Theo Stijnen, will give a lecture about the challenges of closing the plastic cycle.
In his lecture, he will discuss the challenges of achieving the targets of the Dutch Government. The lecture will answer questions such as; What is going well and what needs to be done differently and better? Stijnen will also cover common questions regarding the reductions in CO2 emissions.
Martin van Dord presentation: September 15. 15:00-15:55 Room 1
Theo Stijnen: September 15. 14:00-14:25 Room 1
A closed loop case study: From fridge to plant tray
In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of recycled plastics. The upcoming challenge is ensuring enough recycled material to meet the high demand.
One exciting closed loop example comes from Desch PlantPak. The company makes plant trays out of consumer plastics for the horticultural sector. By ensuring their products are made of 98% recycled material, Desch works with its grower customers and collects plastic waste from plastic processing companies.
After the waste is collected, it is melted and made into a single sheet. Then using thermoforming technology, these recycled plastic sheets are moulded into the desired tray shape. Being Cyclos-HTP certified ensures the effective separation of these trays from the stream of plastic waste. Desch continues to reshape this sector in the agriculture industry. (14,15)
People who would like to know more about the transformation can visit the lecture of Jan Willem Wieringa on the first day (September 14) of the Kunststoffenbeurs at15:00 in the Live Stage Plastics Arena.
Matching designers with recycled materials
Plastic is everywhere- helping in a myriad of ways to from clothing to medical equipment to car parts and even houses. However, plastic without an appropriate end of life or recycling plan can do damage to our environment. It is time to rethink the way we use this material. To make plastic future-proof, we need to rethink the way we use available resources and our production techniques.
MaterialDistrict is a matchmaking platform in the field of innovative materials. R&D and design professionals from all sectors use the platform to discover new materials solutions. At Kunststoffenbeurs 2022, MaterialDistrict will present 120 recycled materials chosen to inspire new ways of looking at what is generally considered disposable material, from reuse to replacement.
These products include the more obvious products of recycled plastic to bioplastics made from corn starch, coffee grounds, and even cow's blood. These materials show that "waste materials" are an excellent resource for various purposes as an alternative to plastic. Interested people in learning more about MaterialDistrict can visit them at stand 480.
Image 1: Discover new materials at the MaterialDistrict stand. Image credit: MaterialDistrict.
The plastics industry is undergoing a radical shift to a sustainable, closed-loop future. Kunststoffenbeurs 2022 is the place to meet the companies, researchers, and designers at the forefront of this change.
This article was written by Wevolver, a community and platform that provides engineers around the world with informative content.
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