Skip to main content
The countdown is on for K 2016, the number one international trade fair for plastics and rubber, and once again New Zealand’s key plastics players will make a beeline for Düsseldorf.
In German, the word ‘kunststoffe’ means ‘plastics’, while ‘kautschuk’ translates into ‘rubber’. So not surprisingly the letter K stands for the world’s leading international trade fair for plastics and rubber – held every three years, traditionally in October, at Germany’s north-western city of Düsseldorf.
The origins of K go right back to 1952, when not much was known about the revolutionary new material and the emphasis was on educating users. Over the ‘60s and subsequent decades the fair has developed into a dedicated trade showcase for the global plastics and rubber market – and on a scale that can’t be matched anywhere else in the world.
From October 19 to 26, K 2016 will again cover the entire plastics value chain, from production and plastics enhancers right through to recycling and reusable plastics. Again, exhibitor numbers are expected to exceed 3000. The venue’s 19 halls, covering 170,000 square metres, are grouped in colours to cover: machines and equipment; raw materials and auxiliaries; semi-finished products, industrial components and reinforced plastics products; and services.
Petra Cullmann, K’s global portfolio director, says K 2016 promises to be a vibrant affair, with a special emphasis on functional plastics such as food storage items and “intelligent” plastics. Construction and automotive plastics will also be under the spotlight, including special foams with insulation properties.
“There are many new developments in materials and in technology,” says Cullmann. “Suppliers are focused on material efficiency, resource efficiency and energy efficiency.
“Plastics recycling is becoming increasingly smarter,” she adds. “In the European Union 70 percent of plastics are being re-used.” It’s all about how new technology can enhance the life-cycle of plastics, she says. 
The world’s plastics industry is still growing at a steady rate, says Cullmann. It’s around four to five percent, and there’s a lot of growth potential in emerging economies like China.
She acknowledges that there’s still work to be done to clean up the image of plastic bags in such emerging markets with poor waste management – but in Europe where a higher value is placed on plastics and where many countries enforce ‘zero plastics to landfill’ recycling, it’s not such an issue.
“This is why we have a special show and forum at K called ‘Plastics shape the future’,” Cullmann explains, “where these issues can be discussed.”
Bio-based and bio-degradable plastics, plastics for 3D printing, plastics for all sorts of applications – it’s all there over the eight days of K 2016. There will be a strong emphasis on materials that come into contact with food or drinking water, and materials used in medical applications.
Like the majority of the 22 “world number one” trade fairs staged by Messe Düsseldorf, K 2016 will feature a large number of working exhibits. Cullmann calls the show “the biggest plastic production plant in the world”. She says K is all about innovation, and many of the exhibitors utilise the event to premiere their latest technology. 
“They know that the whole world comes here. Of the 218,000 visitors who came to K 2013, almost 60 percent were from outside Germany.” 
Cullmann has high expectations for K 2016. “Exhibitors at the 2013 event had just experienced three years of ongoing growth [following the GFC]. This year growth may have levelled out, but the plastics industry itself has high potential, and is both dynamic and creative. It is very exciting.”
K 2016 is an ideal venue for smaller export-oriented companies in particular to expose their innovative solutions or products to the world market. 
“Whether you are a buyer of a seller, it makes absolute sense to be here.”
For more information about visiting or exhibiting at Messe Düsseldorf trade fairs contact the New Zealand representative, Robert Laing, at Messe Reps. & Travel. Email [email protected] or visit 
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


Dishing up export possibilities

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012

What’s mine is not yours

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012

25 countries… and counting

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012