Sustainable/Eco Friendly Adhesive Terminology
Sustainable and Eco Friendly Adhesives are of concern to governments, business and the public all over the world. With each month that goes by, we are introduced to new, innovative ways of being ‘greener’.
On a personal level, that could be through using a reusable water bottle, shopping with bags for life or opting to buy naked products (products without packaging). On the business end, companies are switching from plastic to paper packaging, introducing vegan variations of their products and partnering with other businesses to form closed recycling loops. Companies are recognizing the change in consumer needs and behavior as well as their own accountability when it comes to the environment.
Packaging is one area that has a significant impact on the environment. And with packaging being a key use for adhesives, it is certainly an area worthy of further consideration and one the adhesives industry must keep on top of.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food and food packaging materials make up almost half of municipal solid waste. When it comes to the damage human activity is causing the planet, packaging waste is a big part of the problem. Thankfully, documentaries such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet are helping to highlight this and encourage people to increase their knowledge on the benefits of reusing and recycling packaging.
Most recently, however, new terms such as ‘biodegradable’, ‘compostable’ and ‘bio-based’ have surfaced for both packaging materials and adhesives alike, yet the knowledge behind these terms is rather hazy. It has become clear that consumers need more information about materials and more instructions to help with recycling. Today, people are opting to buy biodegradable packaged products over other forms of packaging because they have heard it’s better for the planet though, because they are incorrectly disposing of them, they are potentially doing more harm than good. Let us elaborate…
Repulpable, Renewable, Recyclable, Biodegradable, and Compostable Are Sustainable and Eco Friendly Adhesives – what do they actually mean?
When an adhesive is repulpable, it means it dissolves completely in water during the paper re-pulping process. Repulpable adhesives are ideal for cardboard boxes, envelopes and other paper product applications because they are fully soluble in water. This makes these adhesives dissolve and eliminates the film or residue that is normally left behind.
Are derived from renewable materials, such as plants and beeswax, and have no petroleum derivatives in their formulations. In addition to a decreased carbon footprint, they further enhance overall sustainability content for many applications, including: Paper lamination, Case and carton sealing, and Bottle labeling.
Recyclable adhesives are often used for automotive applications as well as for glass, aluminum and steel bonding needs. Recyclable adhesives are fully compatible with the substrates they are bonded to, and can be fully melted down without yielding any adhesive waste or residue when the end use product has reached its end of life.
Biodegradable adhesives are designed to be broken down by bacteria and other living organisms. During this degradation process, they lead to the production of carbon dioxide, water and other natural gases depending on the environmental conditions. Synthesized using natural raw materials and based on renewable materials, they are ideal for packaging applications, envelopes, hygiene products and medical devices especially.
Compostable adhesives are a subset of biodegradable adhesives. Unlike biodegradable adhesives, compostable adhesives are broken down in a compost pile environment. Designed to work in our existing waste remediation systems, these adhesives leave no harmful residue or waste behind once fully composted. The resulting compost will then be used to improve and fertilize the soil.
As environmentally friendly initiatives rise, more companies turn toward sustainable adhesives for their bonding needs. We work with many manufacturers that supply us with each of these types of sustainable adhesives that not only improve your environmental friendliness, they also increase operational efficiencies and enhance end-use products. For more information on how BC Adhesives sustainable adhesives can help your company, please visit www.bcadhesives.com
Sustainable and Eco Friendly Plastic packaging and the environment
Although plastic packaging is often torn apart by the press, it can be sustainable if used and managed in the right way. The process of converting used materials into something new keeps products away from landfill for longer, and it is often forgotten about that plastic production uses about half as much energy as alternative materials. Plastic is also a lightweight packaging medium which means less energy is needed to transport plastic packaged goods. Studies have in fact shown that the overall packaging consumption of packaging mass, energy and greenhouse gas emissions would increase if there were no plastic packaging available and only other materials were used.
The drawback to ‘standard’ plastics (and also paper) is that they can only be recycled a few times before they are deemed unusable whereas materials such as glass, metal and aluminum can be recycled endlessly.
Whilst single-use plastics are now widely known to be hazardous to the environment – especially our oceans – plastic packaging is evolving. You can now find compostable and biodegradable plastics (though these aren’t ‘readily’ recyclable) and plastic packaging that’s 100% recyclable.
Most recently, restaurant McDonalds switched its 100% recyclable plastic straws to paper alternatives, however it’s just come to light that these paper straws aren’t yet recyclable and have to be thrown away. This is just one example of the ever-growing list of companies making ‘green changes’ but, as you can see, changes can be tricky (especially for large companies) and lots of in-depth research is needed to make informed choices.
It’s clearly a challenging time for packaging specialists and brand owners as they must get the right balance between the safety, convenience, sustainable and eco friendly adhesives of their products.
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