Over 4,700 packaging professionals were in attendance across the two-day event, according to organisers. Sustainability was the main talking point throughout, with the industry coming together to discuss ways in which environmental responsibility could be moved on to the next level. Experts from Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, Just Eat and Lush Cosmetics were amongst those that took to the stage to offer the latest thinking on sustainability in packaging and the future of plastic alternatives.
Will King, Founder of King of Shaves, joined the Beauty Forum to offer his thoughts on the topic, he said, “Nearly 70 percent of all plastic is sent to landfill, rather than to be recycled. When you consider we produce more than 120 billion pieces of single use plastic each year, something needs to change. The time has come for a shift in thinking. The focus needs to move towards packaging over product, and we must adopt a ‘what’s inside is great, what’s outside needs improving’ approach. This is starting to happen. In fact, we believe that Millennials and Gen-Z consumers are looking for lifetime use products, now more than ever.”
The BIG Plastics Debate returned again this year, allowing for those present to discuss and debate the paths to a zero-carbon future. Nick Gumery, ethical buyer at Lush Cosmetics, argued that reusable, biodegradable solutions provide a strong solution to the sustainability challenge. He said, “Regenerative materials remain a primary focus for us. Take cork for example. A cork pot can last up to 15 years and at the end of its life it could be left in your garden to biodegrade with no energy required in the disposal process.”
The first PlasticFreeLand feature was also hosted at this year’s event. Presented by A Plastic Planet, the dedicated area showcased the latest developments in plastic-free materials and packaging, allowing victors to discover the possibilities of biomaterials. Commenting on PlasticFreeLandTM, Michael Sanders from Lush Cosmetics and GreenGenUK, said, “We have found some suppliers here who I think will revolutionise our product offering.”
Elsewhere at the show, a number of new interactive features were unveiled, designed to provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the latest packaging developments and trends. ThePackHub Trend Zone unveiled 10 of the latest, most influential trends in packaging whilst the Innovation Showcase highlighted the most cutting-edge solutions from the show floor. Attendees had the opportunity to vote for their favourite, with Seufert Transparente Verpackungen being awarded ‘Most Innovative Pack’ for its PET Blue Ocean Material at the end of the show.
Another new feature for 2019 was the Education Hub. The new zone was created to connect established industry professionals with students and apprentices at the start of their careers and discover the next generation of packaging talent.
Pioneering packaging design was a key focus as the Pentawards Conference and Winners’ Exhibit returned to the show. The Pentawards Conference welcomed international design professionals from the likes of Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Stranger & Stranger and Fortnum & Mason, where they discussed creating distinctive branding and revolutionary design. One of the highlights of the programme was Microsoft discussing its Adaptive Controller, designed to make the packaging accessible for gamers with limited mobility, and which went on to become the Diamond Winner at the Pentawards Gala Ceremony on Thursday night. To celebrate Packaging Innovations London’s anniversary, the Pentawards Winners’ Exhibit demonstrated the progress made in the industry over the past decade by showcasing the Diamond winners from the previous 10 years.
Many exhibitors also chose to launch their latest innovations live on the show floor with highlights including: Pollard Group introducing its Front Opening, Top Loading Box; Seufert presenting its latest PET Blue Ocean material; KNOLL Prestige Packaging showcasing its Ecoform plastic alternative; and Hunter Luxury demonstrating its alternative to plastic film bags, Paptic.
Such was the success of the event, organisers have revealed that 70% of exhibitors have already rebooked space for next year’s show. One of the brands to rebook a slot was Fleet Luxury. Will Saunders, of the company, said, “We have been to the show before and this year it feels bigger and better than ever. We have caught up with new and old contacts which has been great. It’s the type of event you just have to be at. We always come to the show and will certainly be back next year.”
Paul MacDonald, global brand director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio, commented, “As consumer concerns continue to rise over the impact of packaging on the environment, our 10th anniversary show provided the perfect platform for the packaging community to come together to discuss this pressing issue, whilst still providing solutions that achieve the objectives of delighting the consumer, stimulating brand engagement and prolonging shelf-life. With a record number of visitors and our busiest show floor to date, it has been fantastic to see the industry debate the issue of sustainability and try to move the conversation forward. We are excited to continue this momentum as we head to our NEC show in February.”
The next Easyfairs packaging event will be Packaging Innovations, Ecopack, Contract Pack & Fulfilment, Label&Print, and Empack 2020, which takes place at NEC Birmingham on 26 & 27 February.