The European Tube Manufacturers Association, etma, organised the World Tube Congress again in 2019, this time in Hamburg. Nearly 150 participants from all over the world met to discuss the challenges facing the international tube industry and to develop joint solutions.

Gregor Spengler, etma’s secretary general, is satisfied with the outcome of the event. “The high number of participants even exceeded our most optimistic expectations,” he says. “This demonstrates impressively that we have touched the industry’s nerve with this event and the topics covered. Not only were we able to welcome the most important tube manufacturers from around the globe to the event, our industry’s entire supply chain was also represented. What pleases me in particular, though, is the extremely high level of interest shown by major brand manufacturers and global players, who have thus also documented their commitment. Without them, there won’t be any sustainable and future-proof solutions for the pressing problems we currently have in the packaging sector, and especially for the tube as a packaging material. It is therefore all the more gratifying that etma has established the World Tube Congress as a forum where co-operation and solution models can be presented and launched across the entire process chain.”

A practical presentation on blockchain technology, which can also offer huge opportunities for the tube industry’s supply chain, showed what such comprehensive co-operation within the framework of Supply Chain Management 4.0 could look like. However, according to another impulse lecture, modern technologies also create a new type of consumer in the next generation, whose needs and changed habits must be addressed appropriately: fast growing e-commerce with new spontaneous decision-making and buying behaviour, uniquely personal communication patterns with enhanced and strongly differentiated information expectations, loss of brand bonding and loyalty and, above all, a thoroughly critical attitude towards packaging.

The consequences of all this for the tube industry were made clear in numerous contributions in Hamburg. Regarding sustainability, the top priorities are efficient sorting and recycling systems worldwide and the development and promotion of compatible, recyclable packaging materials. There was agreement here that only joint solutions involving retailers and brand owners can lead to success. Appropriate thought-provoking impulses and approaches were presented in Hamburg and aroused a great deal of interest.

“The current discussion on recycling, waste reduction and resource efficiency is attracting particular attention, of course,” says Gregor Spengler. “But our industry is on the verge of drastic changes in other areas, too. Digital markings that are sometimes even invisible to the human eye can not only simplify sorting and recycling of packaging material. Digital technology will also make additional track-and-trace applications possible and further perfect anti-counterfeiting measures.  Online shopping and the resulting minimised images on smartphones and tablets will produce new forms of design and brand images. Increasing shipping volumes, including FMCG products, will require ever lighter and more robust packaging. But especially here the tube’s persuasive properties already make it an ideal packaging material for the mail order business.”

From the organiser’s perspective, Gregor Spengler concludes: “Obviously, such a World Tube Congress cannot solve the problems mentioned. But we have succeeded in bringing together important decision-makers and brand manufacturers in our industry’s global process chain and establishing a comprehensive platform for joint efforts and activities. After the successful start with the first World Tube Congress in Berlin in 2016 and the great response to this year’s congress in Hamburg, etma will approach the next World Tube Congress in 2022 with exactly the same aspirations and even greater confidence.”