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‘Plastics are too valuable to be thrown away without second thought’


Petra Cullmann is the Global Portfolio Director for Plastics and Rubber at Messe Dusseldorf. K is one of the 11 shows that comprise the global portfolio at Messe Dusseldorf. With K, Cullmann plays a key role in organizing the trade fair and expanding K’s network with associations, stakeholders and press globally to attract visitors to Dusseldorf. In this interview, she speaks on what K 2019 is all about and why more Nigerians need to participate, amongst other issues.Tobi Awodipe brings the excerpt

What exactly is K 2019 and what is your role? 
The K 2019 show holding in Düsseldorf, is the world´s number one trade show for plastics and rubber and I´m in charge of the global portfolio plastics and rubber at Messe Düsseldorf, the global portfolio that comprises 11 shows all together. Besides K, my team and I offer and organize platforms for this branch in 10 different countries and regions worldwide.
Sarsoli is the only Nigerian exhibitor at K 2019. Why do more Nigerian companies in the plastics and rubber industry need to participate in K and what can they hope to gain? 
They need to participate to be seen in the world of plastics and rubber. K is the performance barometer for the entire industry and its global marketplace for innovations. There is no better place to present their developments, products and solutions than K in Düsseldorf. This is where experts from the world of plastics and rubber come to meet. Nowhere else in the world it is so easy to start networking with the global branch.As the K trade fair features a wide abundance of companies from all over the world, the spotlight is not only on the major issues, but also on niche segments. Nigerian companies shouldn´t miss this unique opportunity. Even though there is currently only one company from Nigeria exhibiting at K, we already welcomed around 500 visitors from Nigeria to the last K in Düsseldorf. For K 2019, we invite everyone of the Nigerian plastics and rubber industry to come to Düsseldorf. You will be amazed by the high innovation density and visionary outlook.

Exhibitor stalls at the fair have been fully booked since last year. Why do you think K attracts a wide range of innovators within the plastics and rubber industry? 
K is the performance barometer for the entire industry and its global marketplace for innovations. For eight days, the who is 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. That’s why the innovators focus on presenting their newest technologies and launching their products at K in Düsseldorf.
This year, K is scheduled to host from the 16th-23rdOctober, in Germany. With the trade fair quickly approaching, how is Messe Dusseldorf preparing for it? 
There is a lot to do for my team and me. Personally, I am travelling a great deal right now, as we are visiting about 45 countries worldwide in this first half of 2019 so as to introduce K 2019, network with associations, stakeholders and the press in the respective countries and, ultimately, to attract visitors to Düsseldorf. This is exhausting but also very exciting and it very much helps us stay up-to-date with the international market. Here in Düsseldorf the focus lies on looking after our exhibitors. The over 3,000 exhibitors from all over the world have a whole host of questions about their participation, like stand construction, power supply, logistics or their applications for trade fair participation, to name but a few. We try to answer these questions and make wishes come true so that it will run as smoothly, hassle-free and successfully as possible for our exhibitors.
What are some of the key issues concerning the plastics and rubber industry that this event hopes to address this year? 
The plastics industry along the entire value chain takes the debate in the media and among the public regarding plastic waste and microplastics in the environment very seriously. Plastics are too valuable to be thrown away without a second thought. It is a material with very high intrinsic value. That’s why plastics for sustainable development and circular economy will be the focal points of K 2019, featuring for example, subjects like water management or renewable energy. Other key issues will be the digitalization of the value-added chain (Industry 4.0) and system integration. There will be as well a special focus on the promotion of young professionals for the industry.
The K trade fair can be argued has been at the forefront of changes in the global market, and has subsequently seen a rise in the number of exhibitor companies from countries such as Chinataking part as the fair progresses. What do you think is responsible for this rise? 
With regards to China, this strong presence is not surprising. According to the latest available figures, 29.4 percent of global plastics manufacturing, 31 percent of global plastics machinery production and the largest single share in global plastics processing can all be attributed solely to China. Furthermore, in 2017, almost 40 percent of the plastics processing machines used around the world came from Asian countries, so China is currently the most significant nation in all plastics industry segments. It is easy to understand that Chinese enterprises want to be part of this industry´s world leading trade fair. Other nations very strongly represented at K 2019 are Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, India and the USA.

What are some of the benefits some exhibitors and visitors can hope to see from participating in K 2019?
It is known the world over that K in Düsseldorf is the innovation platform for the entire plastics and rubber sector. A visit here is simply indispensable for everyone wanting to stay ahead of the competition. K unites central industry trends and future trends at a single venue. Exhibitors and visitors should use the opportunities offered by the K flagship fair, unique information and networking platform for innovators seeking new prospects. Only in Düsseldorf can visitors experience and compare such a varied and international range of developments, solutions and trends and enjoy a practical discourse with experts. Only the K trade show features such a high density of international product launches. 
Plastics shape the futureis a special show at K 2019. Can you tell us what this will entail? 
The special exhibition, “Plastics Shape the Future” sees itself as a podium for solutions and answers to current social trends and discussions. Crucial topics will be discussed in detail, including plastics for sustainable development, circular economy, packaging waste, marine litter and climate change on the one hand and resource conservation, new materials, industry 4.0, lightweight construction on the other. Other topics will not only will offer international information and networking platform but will also provide for greater involvement of policymakers and socially relevant groups in the form of keynote speeches and speed talks.  
What should visitors expect?
The extensive line-up of exhibitor ranges is complemented by high-calibre specials. Not only the just mentioned special presentation of “Plastics shape the future”, but as well the Science Campus, which encourages the discourse between research and industry.  In this forum, companies and universities can exchange information, and also provide exhibitors and visitors with a comprehensive overview of scientific activities and results in plastics and rubber-related research. From 16 until 18 October 2019, the Bioplastics Business Breakfasts will take place and focus on the future role and the market potential of biopolymers. Last but not least one of the rubber hot spots at K 2019 will once again be the Rubberstreet located in hall 6. This window to the world of rubber and elastomers has been held since K 1983 in order to increase the visibility of the rubber industry and to highlight its innovative performance. 

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