Afera Annual Conference 2021

Successful Afera Valencia Conference energises: Evert Smit kicks off the event with words about Afera, our Flagship Sustainability Project and what’s behind meeting face-to-face

The European Adhesive Tape Association’s premier yearly event took place from 29 September to 1 October at Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort. After 20 months of WFH and online meetings, the event welcomed 100 refreshed adhesive tape industry professionals who benefitted from 14 presentations, an Industry panel debate focused around circularity, 7 face-to-face networking moments/activities and an inspiring setting in Valencia, Spain.

Theme and Working Programme
“Afera’s is one of the first physical Conferences taking place in Europe,” said Rupert Kichler, Afera Marketing Committee Member and marketing director at Avery Dennison Performance Tapes, who acted as Moderator of Day 1. “What better place than here to discuss what is relevant right now: how ready your company is to embrace sustainable solutions or change to a zero sum world – a subject which is covered extensively in social media, in business strategy sessions, and of course, by European regulatory bodies.”

“Environmental issues are huge for the European tape industry, and I thought it useful that all the lectures were related to circularity, the Green Deal and sustainability,” commented Afera Member Company delegate Yasuhiro Shinozaki of Nichiban Europe GmbH, a manufacturer of medical, stationery and industrial adhesive tapes. “This was my first business trip by plane since the beginning of last year. It was great talking with Members face-to-face!”

How did the Association’s Conference Programming Team formulate this year’s emphasis on circularity? Afera’s 2020 Conference focussed on sustainability which can be seen as a subset of circularity or vice versa. “While not yet as visible as sustainability on agendas in a broader perspective, the circular economy is an important and complex issue for all the stakeholders of the tape industry and deserves our full attention as a challenge in itself,” said Bert van Loon, Afera Strategist and Moderator of Day 2.

President’s kickoff address
Afera’s 64th Conference was officially opened by Evert Smit, Afera President and director scouting at Lohmann GmbH & Co. KG:

Good morning, everyone. I would like to welcome you to beautiful Valencia and to the first day of our Annual Conference, which I am so glad is taking place face-to-face. I am Evert Smit, president of Afera, and firstly, I would like to thank Afera’s Conference organising committee, namely our Secretary-General Astrid Lejeune, Anne-Mare Klink from 3M, Rupert Kichler from Avery Dennison, Martijn Verhagen from Lohmann, Jean-Loup Masson from Novacel, and naturally Bert van Loon, Pablo Englebienne and the rest of the Afera Team for putting together a truly amazing event with a really compelling, substantial and also diverse Programme centred around circularity. We have already started doing so in our Pre-Conference online sessions—and will be both today and tomorrow—touching on the issues of sustainability, recycling, technology development and regulation in our Member Companies, our European association, our global counterparts, and cross-industry and cross-value-chain initiatives. We will explore the ins and outs of how the debonding of tapes, polyolefin foams, adhesives and sealants, release liners, hydrocracking, life cycle assessment and systemic industry change management fit into a circular economy.

Most of you sitting in the Conference room today are Afera Members, and I am certain you can feel how the Association has evolved and grown and strengthened in the last 20 months that we haven’t see each other in person – just as all of your companies have had to adapt to an evolving global market. We will discuss this in more detail at our annual General Assembly in a few weeks, but Afera continues to be there for all of us: We’ve continued bringing the Industry Webinars and Meetings to drive information sharing and our projects forward; we’ve continued to increase our social media engagement in real numbers; we’ve continued to explore and bring you opportunities to get benchmarked market data and analysis of trends; we have been driving forward the development of a new test method, Dynamic Shear, and at the same time are approaching a new generation of standards development; we’ll be holding our 10th Tape College in Brussels next spring after a very successful online edition of the Technical Seminar last spring; we’ve been increasing and deepening our technology partner relationships, especially that with FEICA; and we continue to welcome a steady stream of new Members...

But there are 2 points that I would really like to highlight about what we are doing within Afera: In 2021, we launched our Flagship Sustainability Project on translating the European Green Deal to our Members. What is important is that we are not promoting technologies but emphasising data and calculation methodologies, best-available techniques for waste management and reduction along the value chain for tapes, and providing you with information about the Green Deal with our links to the European Commission. And this goes hand in hand with our stepping up our regulatory affairs programme, which, led by Pablo Englebienne, our dedicated regulatory affairs manager, is in full swing.

Because of a family emergency, unfortunately, I am not able to share these 2 days with you. I regret this, and this is why: Our theme is really relevant to now (and will be for years to come), I believe the information being shared and discussed is truly valuable, and what Afera’s current activities, projects and accomplishments are makes being here even more interesting for you and your companies. Furthermore, what I am missing, and you will also find during these days and evenings, is that Afera is a family. You get the most out of being physically together—talking, listening, breaking down the walls, ushering in transparency—in the European adhesive tape industry. Especially after these exciting last 20 months, make the most of this face-to-face opportunity, because this is what our industry collective is really about!

Good luck this week, see you soon and enjoy!

Outside of the Conference Room
Attendees of the Valencia Conference also enjoyed cocktails in the gardens and a barbeque dinner around the pool of the Hotel on the Wednesday evening before the start of the Working Programme. On the second day, all participants got to discover Valencia by bike: Guides led small groups along the path of the former river of Túria until reaching the Torres de Serranos. Afterwards, everyone walked over to the iconic, ultramodern Veles e Vents building for cocktails, dinner and live entertainment on the top floor at Restaurant La Sucursal. Partners were treated exclusively to a sailing trip along Valencia’s coastline and a tapas tour in the historical centre Barrio del Carmen. These activities, along with the other scheduled meals and coffee breaks, provided participants with some more profitable networking time outside of the boardroom on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Farewell to a Captain of Industry
Lutz Jacob, who joined Afera in 1981, was TC Chairman from 1996-2009 and our Standardisation Consultant from 2009-present, is retiring after 40 years of service to the adhesive tape industry. Ralf Rönisch, Afera Technical Committee Member and head of R&D at Coroplast Fritz Müller GmbH & Co. KG, gave a touching farewell speech to Mr. Jacob during Wednesday evening cocktails, presenting him with a gift from Afera: a wildcard ticket to any future Afera Conference. “Mr. Jacob is an institution in the Industry and Afera who has worked tirelessly, especially in the areas of developing test methods and launching technical events such as the Technical Seminar and Tape College, and will truly be missed,” Mr. Rönisch shared. Mr. Jacob was also honoured during his last TC Meeting and the annual General Assembly.

Check back here this autumn for further reviews of the feedback and content of the 64th Annual Conference.

Next year’s Conference
Afera’s 2022 Annual Conference will be held from 28 to 30 September at the same location, Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort in Valencia, Spain.

Afera Annual Conference 2021
Working programme presentations (download for Members only)

Content for the 2021 annual event

Afera’s Flagship Sustainability Project on translating European Green Deal to Members
Afera Regulatory Affairs Manager Pablo Englebienne updated us on how we are tackling sustainability opportunities and challenges within this key strategic project. Read 

IFAM study: the tension between the circular economy and life cycle assessment
Professor Andreas Groß explained how adhesive bonding technology has the potential to become the leading joining technology of the 21st century. Read

Adhesives and sealants as enablers of the European Green Deal
FEICA Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager Dimitrios Soutzoukis discussed the opportunities and challenges related to the most significant legislative package affecting our entire industry. Read

Engineering polyolefin foams to contribute to a sustainable economy
Sekisui Alveo Application Development Manager Satish Palika explained how he is increasing circularity in how they source raw materials using the “mass balance approach”. Read

Designed for recycling: call for value chain collaboration
UPM Specialty Papers Director of Technology Mikko Rissanen describes his drop-in solution for meeting Afera’s target of improving the recyclability of products which incorporate tapes. Read

Afera’s recent Annual Conferences

2020 – Online – “Sustainability and circularity”
2019 – Lisbon, Portugal
– “Making the tape business future-proof”
2018 – Athens, Greece
 – "Innovation and digitisation in adhesive tape technology"
2017 – Turin, Italy
 – "The next Generation of Tape Makers and Users"
 Hamburg, Germany – "Managing at the speed of change"
2015 – Marseille, France
 – “What is our next frontier?”
2014 – Dubrovnik, Croatia – “The future of the European adhesive tape industry: Technology, trends, and markets”
2013 – Taormina, Sicily, Italy – “Moving from survival to growth in the post-crisis tape market”
2012 – Madrid, Spain – “Sustainability: Hype or your chance now?”
2011 – Berlin, Germany
2010 – Stockholm, Sweden
2009 – Cracow, Poland
2008 – Florence, ItalyAfera’s 50th anniversary celebratory conference press release 
2007 – Barcelona, Spain
2006 – Nice, France


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