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PACK EXPO approaches

In a business environment of economic uncertainty, packagers seeking solid advice and reliable information on which they can base their capital planning and investments, will soon descend upon Chicago for the upcoming PACK EXPO International 2008.

The industry's largest U.S. trade show, sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI []), will be held Nov. 9 to 13 at Chicago's McCormick Place. It is expected to draw more than 45,000 attendees, including more than 6,000 international visitors from some 125 countries. Roughly 1,700 exhibitors will participate in this year's show.

“The focus on innovation is always evident in the packaging marketplace, and PACK EXPO International is a great opportunity to see what's new and fresh,” says Matt Croson, PMMI vp of member services and communications. “People in the packaging industry can't wait for the economy to improve before making a decision on materials or capital equipment. You have to keep up with the latest innovations just to be competitive. No one can afford to wait two years.”

Programs built on sustainablity
Reflecting on the market, Croson says the major theme for the show will be sustainability. PACK EXPO International is introducing several programs that highlight sustainability. Included in these efforts are a number of expert speakers at the show conference who will address sustainability, and there will be special symbols to call attention to “green” packaging firms. A sustainability track will be featured as part of each day's program schedule, exposing attendees to various dimensions of sustainability, including conservation, lightweighting, plant operations and insight from brand owners' perspective (see conference details story on p. 74).

Research indicates that approximately half of U.S. consumers consider at least one sustainability factor in selecting packaged goods items or stores to shop, so sustainability has gone from just being a buzzword in the packaging industry to an essential part of today's corporate strategy.

Professionals needing guidance on how to apply sustainable packaging initiatives to their businesses can find many potential solutions among an array of sustainability-oriented innovations. The featured technologies, ranging from bioplastics, polylactic acid (PLA) films and other sustainable packaging materials to energy-efficient machinery and lean production solutions, will address several key issues including source reduction, minimization of greenhouse gas emissions and waste and rising levels of recycling and recycled content.

“We're very pleased to offer PACK EXPO International attendees opportunities to discover how they can improve their operations to achieve sustainability goals,” says Charles D. Yuska, PMMI president and CEO. “PMMI is committed to adding value to its events by focusing on issues that are at the forefront of our industry. Sustainability is top of mind with packaging professionals around the globe, and we felt it was essential to make the topic an integral part of PACK EXPO International 2008.”

Croson says PACK EXPO is known for being solutions-oriented, and attendees expect to see sustainability-oriented solutions that respond to the marketplace. “There's no question that exhibitors are listening to their customers and responding directly with sustainability-oriented solutions. From materials and containers right through to components and machines, sustainability will really resonate at this PACK EXPO,” he adds.

The conference, with more than 1,000 attendees, is a strong value for anyone looking to maximize their time at the show, Croson said. Attendees can register for keynote sessions along with other conference sessions at

Making the show 'green'
To complement sustainable solutions being discussed on the show floor and in conference sessions, PMMI is acting to make PACK EXPO Internatonal one of the greenest tradeshows. Among the many activities aimed at reducing energy and waste are:

  • Free METRA commuter rail passes for attendees and exhibitors

  • Replacing detailed printed show directories with a more compact Pocket Guide Directory

  • Providing collection bins for paper waste

  • Recycling of badge holders

  • Using “Green Seal” approved cleaning products and restroom supplies made from 100-percent post-consumer waste.

  • Recycled pallet program

  • Power-down policy for offshow hours

“As the organizer of one of the world's largest tradeshows, we feel it's important to take a proactive role when it comes to protecting the environment,” says Yuska. “By working with our exhibitors, we'll be able to offer a range of voluntary programs that both exhibitors and attendees can participate in and feel good about.”

PROCESS EXPO will be co-located with PACK EXPO International. It features more than 550 exhibiting companies utilizing over 200,000 net sq ft. Located in the new West Building at McCormick Place, the show will focus on developments in processing technology for food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturers. PROCESS EXPO is sponsored and produced by Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA).

Converting & Package Printing (CPP) EXPO will also be co-located with PACK EXPO International on the Lobby Level of the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place. Reflecting the synergies of the package printing, converting, finishing machinery and supplies industries, CPP EXPO showcases the latest in package printing, coating, slitting and many other state-of-the-art finishing processes.

Innovation will again be in the spotlight with PMMI's third PACK EXPO Selects competition, in which PACK EXPO attendees choose the most innovative packaging of the year from a field of entries developed, produced and/or executed by PACK EXPO International exhibitors. Finalists will be displayed at The Showcase of Packaging Innovations® exhibit, and attendees can use the My PACK EXPO kiosks to cast their votes onsite during the show. to shoose the winners of the competition.

Strategies are changing

Croson explains that many attendees have changed their tradeshow strategies in recent years and now come well-equipped and ready to talk about very specific projects. In the past, packagers started the purchasing process by coming to a tradeshow. Now, with the Internet and other media, Croson says visitors can preplan the event to get better payback so they can talk credibly about a project, see the equipment and make comparisons. This is leading to an increasing number of purchase decisions being finalized at the show, he said.

To help showgoers manage their time, PACK EXPO Internatonal has organized several specialized pavilions. These include:

The Containers & Materials Pavilion offers a prime destination for the latest in paperboard, glass, metal, plastic and flexible packaging. More than 70,000 sq ft of exhibit space will be devoted to this large selection of containers and materials solutions.

The Showcase of Packaging Innovations® will showcase the year's most innovative and award-winning package designs from a selection of leading packaging organizations from around the world.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Pavilion will present solutions that meet the needs of the entire supply chain with technologies to upgrade conventional lines into RFID-enabled packaging lines that apply multipack, case and pallet tags online; as well as advances in verifying tag presence, writing to the tags and data validation.

Brand Protection Center Pavilion will focus on packaging initiatives and technologies to counter bioterrorism, package tampering, counterfeiting and product adulteration with exhibits from packaging security technology and service providers.

Contract Packaging Pavilion offers the prominence of contract-packaging services in today's marketplace. This pavailion is a great starting point for assessing a project and exploring the many possible options. PACK EXPO International 2008 show and conference registration is available online at

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