The 2023 edition of the Annual Conference of EUROPUR and EURO-MOULDERS – respectively the association of flexible PU foam blocks manufacturers and the association of polyurethane parts producers for the automotive industry – took place in Budapest on 13 and 14 June. A record 500 participants attended the event, with another 80 joining online. Together, they represented over 120 companies, including 60+ foam producers from all over Europe and beyond.
The conference started with an interactive panel discussion on ‘Flexible PU Foam Markets – Drivers of Change and their Consequences’. Experts from the companies Chemical Market Analytics (Tobias Spyra), IAL Consultants (Philipp Propst), CSIL (Giulia Taveggia) and LMC Automotive (Justin Cox) provided insights on chemical raw materials as well as on the main downstream markets for flexible polyurethane foam (namely upholstered furniture, bedding and automotive). Clint Raine from Belvedere and Partner presented data on flexible PU foam production for 2022, reporting an overall decrease in slabstock PU foam production of 8.5% in the wider European region. Amid weakening demand, high raw material prices and supply shortages, production decreased in all regions of Europe, save Turkey which registered an increase of a bit over 8%. For 2023, production is expected to further decrease in nearly all regions according to the panellists, primarily due to continued weakening demand in upholstered furniture and bedding.
In the afternoon, Péter Császár – Group Downstream Chemicals Senior Vice President and the CEO of MOL Petrochemicals – informed the audience about how MOL is reinventing itself, by moving from being a traditional fuel company to becoming a sustainable chemical company. MOL has set itself the overall objective to become climate neutral by 2050, with some intermediate objectives in between. In the coming years, this includes investing heavily into energy efficiency, green energy production and non-fossil chemicals production. It also includes modernising and developing Hungary’s waste management infrastructure, through a recently awarded public concession. By 2030, the ambition is to reduce the company’s GHG emissions by 30%.
The second panel discussion was dedicated to the topic of ‘Sustainability of Polyurethanes in Automobiles’. The panellists’ expertise ranged from car design (Atha Tubidis, design consultant), raw materials (Esther Quintanilla, Dow), PU parts production (Geert Trossaert, Ascorium Industries), to an industry association (Michel Baumgartner, EURO-MOULDERS). The topics addressed revolved around changes in car design, electrification of vehicles, regulatory landscape, recyclability of polyurethanes and integration of recycled content. Panellists agreed that in order to further sustainability of polyurethanes in vehicles, cooperation all along the value chain and with regulators is essential: i. to enable innovative new (raw) materials to reach the market at an industrial scale, ii. to ensure that chemical recycling is recognized as a legitimate means to provide recycled content, iii. to design vehicles and their parts for dismantling and recycling.
Dimitri Verhoye closed the first day by giving an electric keynote on ‘The Power of Networking’. The attendees could put his advice into practice immediately at the ensuing conference dinner which took place at the beautiful and historic Pesti Vigado concert hall. This event was kindly sponsored by the Mol Group.
On the second day of the conference, traditionally reserved for technical topics, attendees could choose to attend six technical sessions in three parallel streams. The main session was dedicated to Sustainability, and the others were for Automotive, Health & Safety, Machinery & Digitalisation and Product Stewardship & Additives. In total there were 30 technical presentations.
The President of EURO-MOULDERS – Eric Van Lancker – closed the Conference by thanking all speakers, guests and participants and announced that the next conference of EUROPUR and EURO-MOULDERS will take place in Istanbul on 11 – 13 June 2024.
For more information (and individual photos of speakers), please contact Damir Andrasek, Communications Officer (E: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 29 countries and produce over 80% of the flexible polyurethane foam made in the region. Additionally, over 50 organisations from the flexible PU foam supply chain are Associated Members, ranging from chemical raw materials suppliers and machinery manufacturers to various service providers, like logistics and recycling companies.
EURO-MOULDERS is the European Association of Manufacturers of Moulded Polyurethane Parts for the Automotive Industry. Its members produce the vast majority of the moulded PU foam used in automotive seating as well as many other parts used in car interiors and acoustic insulation.