Interview with Bernd Roegele, president of Equiplast 2023

13 March 2023
Interview with Bernd Roegele, president of Equiplast 2023

“A world without plastic is not possible, so let’s make it sustainable and circular”

From 30 May to 2 June, the International Plastics and Rubber Event Equiplast 2023 will be held at Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via venue simultaneously with Expoquimia and Eurosurfas. Expectations are high for this industrial Spanish trade fair, which will bring together solutions and processes from plastics processing companies to respond to new challenges linked to the circular economy, technology transfer and digitalisation. We talk to Bernd Roegele, president of the Equiplast Organising Committee since 2014, about the event and the context, as well as the commercial offer and activities that professionals from the plastics sector and user industries will find.

Equiplast 2023 will be your fourth edition as president of its Organising Committee. Only a year and a half has passed since the last edition, held in September 2021 in the middle of the pandemic. What will the trade fair you are preparing for this May be like?

Holding the event in September 2021 was quite a challenge. It was the first plastic trade fair since the beginning of the pandemic and it was a great achievement considering the circumstances at that time. With regard to the event we are preparing for this year, I think we are doing a great job, supported by the companies and organisations on the organising committee, by the new team at Fira de Barcelona and by the good response we are seeing from the sector.

The forecasts are good, as we expect 220 exhibitors from 12 countries to participate and more than 19,000 professionals to attend. Alongside this commercial offer, attendees will also find Expoquimia and Eurosurfas, events with which we will once again coincide and with which we have important synergies. All in all, there will be more than 450 companies with stands and more than 800 brands represented in 21,000m2 net area, which means that Hall 3 of the Gran Via exhibition centre will be at 100% capacity. A success!

You have been at the head of the Equiplast organising committee for eleven years now. What is your assessment of this period?

Eleven years already?  That’s right, I remember that May 2012 when I was offered the presidency of the organising committee. It was an honour! If I have to take stock, I have to say that they have been intense years, complex years, years of excitement, of nerves, years of making difficult decisions and years of satisfaction, above all for the support received by the other members of the committee and by the Fira de Barcelona team. The truth is that I have had to deal with complicated editions (2014, the end of the economic crisis, 2017 the Catalan Procés, 2020/21 Covid-19), but here we are and we continue to fight for Equiplast, as the benchmark event for our sector in Spain.

Do you think the plastics industry is very different now than it was then?

The plastics sector is constantly evolving to provide industry with solutions to new needs and, in this sense, it is developing applications for more sustainable production adapted to the times. To answer the question directly, the plastics sector is not very different now than it was 12 years ago, but it is moving, researching and developing new processes in which raw materials and transformation machinery coexist, always focused on the circular economy, and we will see this at Equiplast.

Despite all the efforts made by the plastics sector to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, one of the biggest difficulties is to deal with the demonised public image of plastics, which is also reflected in the regulatory framework. What more can companies in the sector do to turn this situation around?

Companies in the sector have been working for years to reverse this situation. Together with the chemical industry, more sustainable plastics are being developed and machine manufacturers are adapting their production processes to these materials. There are more and more applications for producing plastic parts with a higher content of recycled material. We are an active part of the circular economy and many companies collaborate with institutions such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which was established in 2010. We also incorporate Industry 4.0 technologies to optimise processes, generating less waste and increasing energy efficiency.

As a complement to the commercial offer, what other activities will there be at Equiplast?

We will have the Rethinking Plastics exhibition where attendees can see and touch different articles made from recycled, biodegradable or renewable plastics. With this exhibition we are showing our industry’s commitment to the environment. We have been working for years to ensure that plastic never becomes waste, but rather a new raw material for different uses. Also, in the knowledge section, together with Expoquimia, we are inaugurating the “Best in class” programme through which we will give voice to the success stories of different industries that use plastic or chemical solutions, equipment and technology that have implemented innovative projects in the field of the circular economy, digitalisation or technology transfer. We will also be holding the Eurocar Conference, together with Eurosurfas, specifically for the automotive sector.

What can this year of the fair bring to companies and professionals in the plastics sector?

Equiplast is the benchmark trade fair event for the Spanish plastics industry. It is our meeting place, to promote sales and business, to make commercial contacts, but also to discuss issues of sector debate and generate shared knowledge. The current situation, which is complex due to different factors affecting our industry, whether due to technological, regulatory, energy or economic changes, requires an Equiplast with a very practical focus that allows our attendees to explore, select and acquire the best solutions in plastic materials, as well as machinery and process and transformation technology to successfully face the challenges ahead, especially environmental ones. I am convinced that Equiplast 2023 will bring a new impetus to our sector.

Finally, how do you see the future of the plastics industry?

Optimistically. We cannot imagine a world without plastic. There is no substitute today. But we have to be environmentally friendly, reduce the quantity as much as possible, and above all take back and recycle it, and go for its circularity.

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