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BPF hosts its first ever ‘virtual’ Annual Dinner

British Plastics Federation

4 min read Partner content

The BPF hosted its 87th Annual Dinner in October, in the form of an online ‘Virtual Get Together’, which featured a speech to the plastics industry from Nadhim Zahawi, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Since it was formed in 1933, the BPF has hosted an Annual Dinner every year, even during the World War 2, and the trade association wanted to ensure the unbroken line of events continued, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Sponsored by LG Energy, the members-only event was attended by over 100 BPF members, taking the total number of attendees at the organisation’s online events this year to over 2,000. In his speech to the industry, BPF President Martin Althorpe reflected on the huge impact of the BPF’s work for the whole of the plastics industry throughout a testing year. Martin Althorpe highlighted the in-depth bulletins sent to BPF members about key COVID-19-related updates, as well as the organisation’s participation in daily briefings with key government departments, where the BPF shared the industry’s concerns and feedback.

Martin Althorpe continued that the BPF’s work on health and safety in particular “saved companies a great deal of management time and cost, increased the confidence behind our actions, assisted the professionalism of our approach and genuinely improved safety” across the industry. The BPF president concluded: “All this emphasises the best reasons why we are members of the BPF: it saves us time, it saves us money and it provides a platform for us to share experience and capitalise on opportunities.”

Philip Law, director general of the BPF, highlighted that in addition to COVID-19, the plastics industry currently faces many issues including Brexit, de-globalisation, upcoming legislation and new taxation. Philip Law said that in 2021 the BPF’s work will focus on four main elements. Firstly, strengthening the industry after a traumatic 2020, including encouraging more inward investment. Secondly, securing “a higher level of support for the industry from politicians and communities” and promoting positive changes that are making the circular economy a reality. Thirdly, helping to make the industry more competitive, including the creation of a new Productivity Committee, as well as assisting with upskilling through the creation of soon-to-be-released e-Learning courses. Fourthly, Philip Law mentioned the desire to increase the international reach of the BPF on the web to expand the pool of potential customers it attracts for its members.

The keynote speech at the virtual event was given by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS Nadhim Zahawi. The minister stated he was glad to be part of the event to reflect on “the BPF’s excellent work this year”. He also said that “plastics are a key component of the manufacturing sector and a critical part of our economy” and thanked the BPF for being a valuable source of information.

Addressing the industry, the minister stated: “I would like to thank you all for the care and energy you have put into fighting this virus, with many of you continuing to go to work throughout the pandemic to help produce essential PPE.” He added: “I congratulate you on being a model for employing social distancing safety measures into the workplace and for your continuous feedback to monitor the success of these measures.”

The minister concluded his speech by stating: “I am delighted with the progress we have already made together towards achieving our shared goals and I hope to keep building upon the strong relationship between my department — BEIS —and the British Plastics Federation in the future, and to continue this great work together.”

The event also announced the winners of key industry awards. Flexipol Packaging won the BPF Energy Award for improved energy efficiency due to a range of measures they implemented in 2020, including upgrading existing extrusion lines and what Martin Althorpe described as “a far-reaching maintenance programme”.

Martin Muirhead, the Master of the Worshipful Company of Horners, announced the two winners of the new COVID-19 Outstanding Achievement Award. Merchant Taylors School in London was one winner, commended for using its 3D printing facilities to manufacture over 20,000 much-needed face visors. The other award winner was Summit Systems for developing the Summit Defence Shield, described by the Horners’ Master as “a novel and innovative way of providing a protective clear barrier for all types of working environment”.

Commenting on winning the COVID-19 Outstanding Achievement Award, Managing Director of Summit Systems Mike Jordan stated: “The team have worked solidly throughout the COVID-19 period and the award is truly deserved. Well done team!”

The next BPF Annual Dinner is scheduled to take place in October 2021. The event is exclusive to BPF members. A Halloween discount is currently available.

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