Most of the first day of the conference was dedicated to general topics. Clint Raine presented the European flexible PU foam production data for 2021 and trends for 2022. Although the European industry recorded a strong 4.4% growth in 2021 compared to the previous year, the general message was that the industry has to prepare for a period with at best stable and probably even declining demand, in large part linked to factors from outside of the polyurethane supply chain. James Elliot from Argus Media supplemented Clint’s presentation by illustrating the wider context on the currently very volatile energy and petrochemical markets.
Rahul Gautam, Managing Director at Sheela Foam and Chairman Emeritus of the Indian Polyurethane Association, (IPUA) presented the challenges and opportunities for the flexible PU foam industry in India. He stressed the great potential for the polyurethane industry’s development in the world’s second most populous country and called for cooperation between India and Europe.
During the session dedicated on furniture and bedding, Frederik Lauwert, Managing Director of the EBIA (European Bedding Industry Association) provided the audience with an overview of regulatory changes that our industry can expect in the bedding and furniture supply chain in the coming years. A second presentation was about perceived strengths and weaknesses of PU foam from the perspective of a furniture manufacturer, presented by Lorraine McMahon from The Home Group. Marco Pelucchi and Architect Riccardo Giovanetti have closed the session by showing how the Italian foam industry is promoting polyurethane as a material within the Poliuretano è initiative.
Another session was dedicated to the automotive supply chain. Firstly, Chaim Waibel from Plastics Recyclers Europe presented the upcoming revision of the End-of-life Vehicles Directive and what it can mean for plastics in vehicles. Almost as an answer to some of those future requirements, there was a presentation on novel materials in car interiors by Mr. Philippe Aumont (DVN Interiors) and then the example of how Adient puts car interiors on the way to greater sustainability by Mr. Michel Berthelin.
Jan Arnet, CEO of the Bertschi Group – one of the largest logistics companies for chemicals in the world – shed light on the global supply chain issues, by explaining the multifaceted reasons behind them: from Covid to a ship blocking the Suez Canal to lockdowns in China, skyrocketing fuel costs, shortage in containers or war in several parts of the world… To close the first day, Yochai Gafni, Commerical Director for DOW’s PU an Chlor-Alkali business in Europe, gave a presentation on “Adapting to a changing world”. He explained what is the ‘VUCA world’ and how the global trends will impact the PU foam industry. Yochai’s final messages are (i.) collaboration within the value chain is essential, (ii.) recognize change as an opportunity and finally (iii.) inertia is not an option (at least not a good one).
The second day of the conference, traditionally reserved for technical topics, offered seven breakout sessions in three parallel streams. There were two sessions each on Health & Safety and Sustainability, a session on adhesives, one on machinery, and one on chemicals. In the sessions on sustainability in particular, participants could discuss the most recent evolutions in recycling technologies for polyurethanes.
President of EURO-MOULDERS – Eric Van Lancker – closed the Conference by thanking all speakers, guests and participants and announced that that the next conference of EUROPUR and EURO-MOULDERS will take place in Budapest on 14 and 15 of June 2023.
For more information (and individual photos of speakers), please contact Damir Andrasek, Communications Officer (E: email@example.com, M: +32 492 10 7576)
EUROPUR is the European Association of Flexible polyurethane (PU) Foam Blocks Manufacturers. Its members operate the vast majority of flexible PU foam plants in 28 countries and produce over 80% of the flexible polyurethane foam made in the region. The way members operate is as dicerse as is he PU industry: some members sell foam blocks only, some create semi-finished products and some make mattresses, furniture and other consumer goods directly. Additionally, over 40 organisations from the flexible PU foam supply chain are Associated Members providing raw materials and additives suppliers, machinery manufacturers and various service providers ranging from laboratories to recycling companies.
EURO-MOULDERS is the European Association of Manufacturers of Moulded Polyurethane Parts for the Automotive Industry. Its members produce majority of the moulded PU foam used in automotive seating. It is a non-profit organisation registered in Belgium, with a mission to improve technical and scientific aspects relating to moulded polyurethane foam used in the automotive industry.