With a range of top speakers, 300 suppliers, and 6,22 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 and 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. On day one the debate was ‘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: ‘Some 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.
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.
James Drake-Brockman, divisional director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio, commented: ‘Packaging Innovations (including 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 and 12 September.