K 2022: 70 years for the plastics and rubber industry

The K 2022 show opens today and celebrates its 70th anniversary this year! It will be held from 19 October to 26 October. With 3,037 exhibitors offering the widest range of innovations along the entire value chain, K 2022 will provide a complete overview of where the plastics industry is headed. It will occupy all 18 exhibition halls as well as large outdoor areas. The ranges on display will include machinery and equipment, raw materials and auxiliaries as well as semi-finished and technical parts and reinforced plastics products.

The exhibitors will represent 60 countries. with strong participation from Europe, particularly from Germany, Italy, Austria, Turkey, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France as well as from the USA. K will clearly reflect the changes on the world market: the number of companies from Asia has remained at a constant high level for several years. Especially China, Taiwan, India, South Korea and Japan will make an impressive appearance - and this despite the current difficult conditions in these countries due to quarantine regulations in their own countries when returning from overseas or major delays in issuing visas.

The German plastics and rubber industry will be represented with 871 exhibitors on 66940 square metres (about 38% of the space).

During the opening press conference, on October 18, Erhard Wienkamp, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf, declared: “K 2022 is our first major trade fair since the pandemic. With 179000 sqm of net exhibition area, our fairgrounds is completely booked. Not only is K in Düsseldorf the performance barometer of the industry and its global marketplace for innovations but also sets sustainable economic impulses. Especially after the pandemic-induced changes and in a difficult global economic climate it will provide orientation”.

Commenting on the situation in the global plastics and rubber industry, Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the exhibitors’ advisory board at K 2022, said: “Polymer materials are indispensable and omnipresent in nearly all sectors of our living environment today. In 2021, global plastics produc

tion reached approximately 390,7 million tons; in Germany alone, 21 million tons were produced in 2021. However, the entire industry faces a variety of challenges such as supply chain issues and exploding energy prices. The need for personal exchange on a global level at K 2022 is enormous, all the more as the plastics industry is undergoing a transformation process towards a circular economy”.

Plastics production
390.7 million tons of plastic were produced worldwide in 2021, 352.3 million tons of which were derived from fossil raw materials, 32.5 million tons from recycled plastic, and 5.9 million tons from bio-based plastics. According to analyses conducted by the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), almost more than 29,88 million tons of rubber were manufactured and consumed within the same time period. Asia is now responsible for more than 50% of all global plastics production. Rubber production is also traditionally dominated by Asia.

According to Plastics Europe, 21 million tons of plastic were produced in Germany in 2021. The turnover of plastics producers totalled 31 billion euros. German plastics processing achieved revenues of 69.4 billion euros in 2021. Rubber processors were able to show revenues of 9.95 billion euros.

When it comes to the application area of plastics in Europe, the packaging sector holds the largest share with around 39 percent, construction follows in second place with 21 percent, and the automotive sector is in third place with almost 9 percent. (Source: Plastics Europe, figures from 2021)

Production of machinery for plastics and rubber
The current situation of machinery and equipment suppliers, the largest exhibitor group at K, is as follows: the production value of plastics and rubber machinery reached a volume of 38.6 billion euros worldwide in 2021 (2020: 34.2 billion euros). In terms of production value, the largest single nation in plastics and rubber machinery manufacturing in 2021 was China with a 35 percent share, followed by Germany with 19.6 percent and Italy with 7.1 percent. In terms of world trade, German mechanical engineering, with a share of world exports of 22 percent, ranks directly behind the new export champion China with 23.9 percent, Japan with 9.1 and Italy with 8.6 percent. The demand for processing machinery and equipment is present in all important sales markets and will continue to grow.

Manufacturers from Germany closed the year 2021 with a production value of 7.55 billion euros for core machinery and thus 7.6 percent above the values of the previous year.

The hot topics of K 2022
At the last edition of K three years ago, exhibitors already unanimously emphasised the need for operational and closed cycles along the complete material chain. Never before had the industry been so unanimous in addressing an issue and working so cohesively on solutions for environmental compatibility, resource conservation and waste reduction. This development has accelerated since then.

K 2022 will provide impressive proof that this industry assumes responsibility and that plastics will in future be part of the solution rather than a problem. And this is precisely why the three hot topics of K 2022 will be Circular Economy, Climate Protection and Digitalisation.

Without plastics, careful management of the world climate will not be possible. Plastics are enablers for lightweight construction, e-mobility, the use of wind and solar energy. And here the Circular Economy is of vital importance, while digitalisation is an indispensable enabler for transparency and resource efficiency. All three hot topics will also be highlighted in the Specials at K 2022.