The Shanghai World Expo opened its gates in May, offering visitors a look at the future of the world's cities. In some pavilions, this means robots, in others it means cool-looking three-wheeled people movers. To plastics companies, however, the slogan of the 2010 World Expo, Better City, Better Life, means materials.
The expo, the modern incarnation of the World's Fair, runs from May 1 until the end of October, offering an unparalleled opportunity to reach a Chinese audience. Companies participating in the expo are using the event to showcase eco-friendly and cutting-edge materials, some hoping to gain exposure in China, others using the event to build their profile internationally.
The pavilion is a great opportunity for UPM to tell about its new material and its possibilities and properties in an international, high-profile project, said Markku Koivisto, director of UPM's new ProFi material business. ProFi combines recycled paper and surplus plastic taken from Helsinki, Finland-based UPM's label-making business. UPM, which focuses on forest and timber products including paper, pulp and biofuel, recently introduced ProFi.
The themes of the expo and the Finnish pavilion fit perfectly with the mission of UPM ProFi, Koivisto said. The pavilion's architects were looking to explore methods of construction that are both stylish and sustainable.
The pavilion, which has distinguished itself at the expo with a teacup-shaped design and a giant sauna available for VIP visitors, is covered in 25,000 white UPM ProFi tiles that give the building a marble-like glow.
Through this project alone we gave life to [about] 20 tons of former label waste that would have otherwise had to be incinerated or land-filled, Koivisto said.
Finland was not the only country looking to show off new materials. For Muttenz, Switzerland-based Clariant International Ltd., the World Expo was an opportunity impossible to pass up. Expo 2010 is the biggest event for Shanghai and for the whole of China this year, said Per Sjoeberg, head of the Greater China region of Clariant. Expo 2010 offers us an excellent opportunity to get closer to a mix of audiences from various local and international backgrounds.
While most plastics companies were focused on construction materials, Clariant's most visible product at the expo, NanoSphere, is being used in the uniforms of the employees of the Swiss pavilion. When applied to clothing, NanoSphere forms a water-tight finish that is breathable and protective. Both ketchup and oil, according to the product's description, simply roll off of clothing finished with NanoSphere.
One of the most popular pavilions at the expo, Germany, has put two German plastics companies to good. Both Bayer MaterialScience AG and BASF SE have contributed materials. Bayer helped shape the interior of the building, using its material Makrolon to form a series of linked blue chips that hover above visitors in the pavilion's Harbor room, evoking the feeling of being underwater. In the Garden room, Makrolon was also used to shape the ceiling, this time with colored sails. According to Markus Hoschke, the leader of Bayer's sheet skills network in Asia, these whimsical applications show the design freedom that Maklaron offers.
BASF is perhaps the most active single plastics company at the Expo, with some of its applications on display in the German pavilion. In addition to a shoe made of 100 percent polyurethane and a chair made of BASF's Ultradur engineering plastic, the company has Micronal PCM on displaya material designed to absorb and release heat, helping to keep indoor temperatures between 70° and 79° F.
BASF also is present inside the German-Chinese House, a bamboo structure nearby the German pavilion, and the Hamburg House, a model house showcasing energy-saving and eco-friendly design. At the German-Chinese House, BASF has contributed a display presenting sustainable solutions for mobility and construction. Across the Expo at the Hamburg House, the company has contributed it's Neopor thermal insulation material and Norbin, the company's eco-friendly paint.
We are very glad to participate in the Expo 2010 in Shanghai during this milestone year, which marks the 125th anniversary of our first delegated BASF representative to China, in 1885. said Johnny Kwan, the chairman of BASF Greater China's Country Board, in a statement.
Today, BASF plays an important role in fostering sustainable urbanization, by offering intelligent solutions to help address the issues brought about by climate change and enhanced lifestyles, Kwan said. This fits well into the theme of the Shanghai Expo, 'Better City, Better Life.'