With world-renowned speakers, 300 industry-leading suppliers, and a record-breaking 6,922 visitors, Packaging Innovations, Empack and Label&Print had a triumphant return to Birmingham’s NEC.
Sustainability was at the top of the agenda for both exhibitors and speakers, with experts from Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Iceland, Innocent Drinks, Co-op and Greggs taking to the stage to address the issue and reflect on the progress made by brands over the last 12 months.
Ian Schofield, Own Label & Packaging Manager at Iceland, reflected on the pledge the company made last year to remove plastics from its own brand packaging by 2023. “We have been successful in finding alternative materials over the last 12 months and have developed plans to replace plastic across a vast range of products. However, with some of these materials costing between three and 10 times more than their plastic counterparts, cost remains one of the biggest challenges in our mission to create plastic-free packaging.”
The headline feature of the seminar programme, the Big Plastics Debate, built on the groundwork laid at last year’s show and featured some of the brightest minds in the industry. On day one an expert line-up debated ‘plastic will always be fundamental to our everyday lives’, with cases made for both sides of the argument.
Speaking for the motion, Barry Turner, Plastic and Flexible Packaging Group Director at British Plastics Federation, commented: “The real issue is how we behave with plastic. Consistent collection and an aided circular economy will ensure that we are using this resource responsibly. We have to cherish plastic and put it back to work.”
On the other side of the debate, Sian Sutherland, Co-Founder of A Plastic Planet, argued: “91% of plastic ever made has never been recycled. All the noise and concern over recycling has made no difference to the acceleration of plastic production. When our children have children, they will be dealing with triple the amount of plastic on the planet. Something needs to change.”
New for 2019, the show also featured the Plastic Free Aisle. Hosted by A Plastic Planet, the spectacle showcased supermarket shelves stocked with the latest innovations in food packaging made from alternatives to plastics.
One visitor who was impressed by the feature was Donna Worsley, Innovation Director at Oscar Mayer. "We visited the first ever plastic-free aisle in Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza last year and it is so interesting to see the Plastic Free Aisle here and discover how much technology has moved along in just twelve months, it’s been so informative.”
Packaging Innovations’ offering for the whole of the packaging supply chain was also clearly on display at the 2019 show, not least through its partnership with Industrial Pack. As the UK’s only dedicated event for industrial, transit and protective packaging, the partnership saw the introduction of a dedicated industrial pack show to the show floor, featuring an array of leading industry suppliers and innovative solutions.
As always, innovation across the packaging industry was at the heart of the whole show, with a host of interactive features to inspire and educate visitors throughout the two-day event, including the new ‘Innovation Zone’, which featured the Innovation Stage, the Start-Up Village and the Innovation Showcase, which displayed the show’s 12 most innovative designs with attendees able to vote for their favourite. The product crowned ‘Most Innovative Pack’ live on the show floor, was FFP Packaging recognised for its reseal and recycle pack.
Many exhibitors also chose to launch their latest products live on the show floor. Highlights included: Charpak introducing its brand-new 100% recyclable Twist-Loc plastic tub with integrated twist-and-lock mechanism; Macpac presenting its revolutionary new Breakdown PET material; and Ampacet showcasing its REC-NIR-BLACK masterbatch solutions for automated sorting of black plastic at recycling centres.
Following a successful show, many exhibitors were quick to rebook stands for next year with an impressive 75% already confirming that they will return for 2020. One exhibitor who enjoyed a successful show was Charpak. Paul Smith, Managing Director, commented: “The show this year has been an overwhelming success for us. Launching a new product and sponsoring the Ecopack Stage has given us a great opportunity to join the conversation on plastics. With more leads this year than ever before, we have had our busiest show to date and have already booked our space for next year.”
James Drake-Brockman, Divisional Director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio, concludes: “Packaging Innovations (inc. Contract Pack and Ecopack), Label&Print, Empack and Industrial Pack has been an overwhelming success this year and I would like to thank everyone who has supported the show. With sustainability remaining a key challenge for the packaging community, it has been particularly exciting to see the industry coming together to move the conversation along and continue to strive for change. We can’t wait to continue this success as we look towards the London show in September.”
The next Easyfairs packaging event will be Packaging Innovations and Luxury Packaging 2019, which takes place at Olympia London on 11 & 12 September.