Touted as the world’s largest plastic and rubber fair in Germany, K 2019 showcased innovations in polymers, cutting-edge plastic manufacturing technology, and various inventions designed in support of the circular economy – a major idea that has grabbed the attention of the entire world and resulted in collaborative networks and new approaches to product and service development. However, that was not all there was at K 2019, because the mega fair was also graced by the presence of Chris Lefteri, one of the most respected authorities on materials and design with various publications on material design and the owner of the design studio CLD in London, the United Kingdom and Seoul, South Korea.
Before taking a design tour with Lefteri, one of the highlighted activities at K 2019, All Around Plastics had an opportunity to sit down with him and have an interview at SCG’s booth.
Lefteri said, “the trends in materials are clearly looking at how we can make materials more sustainable. You can see this trend in automotive and consumer electronics in the United States and most of Europe. This is something that will probably continue for a long time. Experience is another big trend. Consumers today are eager to know where products and materials come from. These stories can impact our experience as consumers and heighten product value”.
The design tour started in the reception room in Hall 8B, where the participants, consisting of designers, news reporters, researchers, and brand owners, gathered to be informed which booths they would be visiting in the next 90 minutes, most of which were geared towards innovations for circularity.
Highlights of the tour included products made with recycled plastics, such as perfume caps produced with post-industrial recycled material on display at the Dow Chemical booth and the demonstration of chemical recycling and mechanical recycling of ABS at the Ineos Styrolution booth. Also featured on the tour were products made with bio-based plastics, such as Braskem’s cane-based plastic products, and composite materials, such as Beologic’s wood-plastic composites that were mixed with cork and wood pulp.
Upon arriving in Hall 6, Lefteri mentioned SCG’s booth and its products designed for the circular economy, such as post-consumer recycled resins and floor tiles produced with eggshell-based composite material.
Lefteri concluded the interview with a piece of advice on material selection in an era where the circular economy reigns supreme. “Designers can help underpin the circular economy by understanding the different options that can support product development. Plastics are complex, and you cannot conclude that, for instance, a biodegradable material is better than a virgin material or a recyclable materials. There are so many other factors to consider. The most important thing is to look at the material’s properties and design products from there to meet usage specifications.”
The fair has shown us that advances in material development are bringing about with not only greater diversity but also new opportunities and possibilities. As long as designers and manufacturers choose materials appropriately, they will be able to create products that meet specifications in a sustainable ways.