Adhesives Magazine

Green Roundtable

June 1, 2008
ASI chats with company representatives to determine what constitutes a “green” product in the adhesives and sealants business, and where this may take the industry in the future.



The Participants

Jenn Downes, Director of Marketing & Sales, Westech Aerosol Corp., Port Orchard, WA

Brian Toleno, Ph.D., electronics group of Henkel, Irvine, CA

Barry Wright, Executive Vice President, W.F. Taylor Co. Inc., Fontana, CA

Jenn Downes

How do you define a product as "green"?

Downes: Westech defines a product as “green” if the product meets low VOC and no hazardous air pollutant qualifications; qualifies for LEED points; reduces safety concerns for end users; is functional and easy to use; and if the materials are reusable and/or recyclable in our industrial processes. Our green products reduce hazardous air pollutant and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and/or are non-flammable  where that is a concern. Responsible design is also a consideration, in that Westech practices pollution prevention in its manufacturing processes to minimize waste. Our products are fully recyclable down to the packaging. We encourage our customers to use local recyclers, which in turn reduce transportation costs. A “green” product can have impact from point of manufacture all the way down the line to the end of the product’s life.  We strive to shepherd our products from “cradle to grave.”

Toleno: Environmental sustainability is an important aspect to Henkel’s overall worldwide business.  Within the electronics group, we look at adhesive materials that meet or exceed the current legislation in Europe (e.g. RoHS), China and other regions as being “green.”  This means no PBB or PBDE flame-retardants, VOC-free materials and materials that meet the upcoming halogen-free specifications being discussed.

Wright: W.F. Taylor defines a “green” product by the following criteria: the product must exhibit some kind of tangible and provable environmental benefit, such as reduction of harmful VOC emissions, recyclability, sustainability or beneficial use of a renewable resource; and the product must be applicable as a Green Product under section five of the FTC Act and Part 260 Guides for the use of Environmental Marketing Claims. Taylor has self-imposed the requirement that its Green Adhesives be certified independently by a third party such as Green Guard or CRI Green Label Plus.

Brian Toleno

How has demand for green products changed over the past 5-10 years?

Downes: We have seen demand increase significantly since 2000, when Westech developed the first solvent-based canister adhesives that were compliant with California air regulations. Westech looks to the South Coast Air Quality Management District to define the measures of “green” when it comes to adhesive formulations, since they have the strictest air quality regulations.

Toleno: There has certainly been a significant increase, especially over the past three years. RoHS legislation has probably had the largest impact on increasing the demand for “green” products.  Even beyond RoHS, customers are requesting that material have lower environmental impact (VOC-free) and be safer for disposal (e.g., Halogen-free).

Wright: The demand for green products has increased particularly in the last five years. For our industry, the growth of the U.S. Green Building Council as well as statutes such as the State of Washington Protocol for VOC Emission Rates and California’s 01350-Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) (not to mention all applicable federal statutes) has fueled the growth of green adhesives. The increase in the general public’s interest in environmental issues is an additional contributor to green product growth.

Barry Wright

What are some of the advantages of using green products as opposed to traditional adhesives?

Downes: Green products are more environmentally friendly in that they reduce the amount of pollutants being released into the air. They are also more user-friendly for this same reason, as the user is inhaling fewer pollutants over time. In other ways, green products that are non-flammable are safer in particular environments where other volatile products are being used.  Our Westech products are designed to be less hazardous to human health and the environment than other traditional adhesives types.

Toleno: The advantage of using a green product is twofold.  First is customer perception.  Many of our materials go into making consumer electronics.  Consumers are drawn to products that can claim some sense of being “green.”  When we can help our customers achieve these goals, it is positive for everyone: Henkel, manufacturer, and end customer.  Second is enabling our customer to better manage their product cradle-to-grave.  This goes beyond consumer electronics into automotive and other applications.  If our customers (the electronics manufacturers) can use Henkel materials to provide a reliable product, and that product is then easier to recycle and/or has less overall impact on the environment at the end of its life, then we have allowed our customer to lower the lifetime costs of their products.

Wright: The advantages of using Green Flooring and Construction adhesives is that the VOC emission levels are greatly reduced from levels that existed a decade ago. Green Adhesives qualify for LEED points under the USGBC LEED Rating Systems, which were designed to benchmark and rate Green Building practices. In addition, there is a distinct reduction in odor-driven complaints and consumer concerns that the odor might mean that the product is harmful. Finally, you can compete in areas where green statutes have set limits on VOC emissions. These advantages ultimately transfer to the factories where the products are produced, thereby improving the work environment.

What percentage of total sales would you say green products represent for your company?

Downes: At least 65% of our sales are derived from green products.

Toleno: This is difficult to measure. In recent years, we have launched products to specifically address these needs, such as green mold compounds, VOC-free fluxes, and Pb-free solders.  In addition, many of our products already meet the “green” standard set forth by our customers.  All we needed to do was generate the data in order to provide the documentation. A good estimate for the electronics business would be greater than 75% of our products are "green" products, by definition or formulation.

Wright: W.F. Taylor has had green products since its development of Envirotec Healthguard Adhesives in 1990. Green Adhesives are responsible for more than 95% of Taylor’s sales. We have thrived as a company marketing green products since 1990.

Green construction adhesives offer reduced VOC emission levels.

What kind of green products are your customers demanding?

Downes: Our customers, depending on their geographical location and application needs, are requesting lower-VOC and non-flammable products that perform to the high quality standards of non-green adhesives.

Toleno: Two to three years ago, the drive was for Pb-free soldering products (alloys that do not contain lead) and adhesive materials that can survive and operate within this environment.  Henkel already had materials to meet these needs several years before the large push. Around this same time, there was a drive for green epoxy mold compounds. In both cases, the first generation of these materials from many suppliers did not meet the reliability and performance standards that non-green products had attained.  Today, those materials meet or exceed previous benchmarks.  Currently, customers are asking for the elimination of Halogen from materials being used in electronics.  This is a significant challenge, and one that Henkel has been pursuing for a few years now.  We have many materials that will meet these strict new guidelines.  In addition, Henkel participates in committees that are looking into how to test and set standards for the industry on these materials.

Wright: Our customers want products that offer them protection from present and even future government statutes. They want products that will reduce environmental complaints by the ultimate end users. They want products that perform as well as the older “non-green” technology products. They also want products that offer them the advantage of being green when they present them to architects, builders, contractors, designers and end users.

What green certifications have you received? For what products?

Downes: Westech does not have green certifications currently, although all of our green products will qualify a builder for LEED points, if used. We have received the Sequoia Award for Leadership in Environmental Innovation.

Toleno: We have many materials that meet RoHS guidelines, from soldering materials to adhesives used in applications on and around the circuit board.  Henkel has tested hundreds of products, and we provide the test data to our customers so they can certify that the materials going into their devices are “green.”  In addition, our manufacturing sites meet ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards for environmental compliance. Finally, several of our manufacturing sites meet or exceed the requirements of companies such as Sony and HP who regularly survey their suppliers’ environmental policies.

Wright: W.F. Taylor has received Green Guard certification on a large portion of its product line. The Green Guard website, www.greenguard.org, lists the tested products with the test certificates for anyone interested in researching our products regarding their green attributes. We also have the Carpet and Rug Institute's (CRI) Green Label Plus certification. The CRI website is www.carpet-rug.org, and Taylor products are also listed on this site. Both of these organizations perform and categorize the reportable VOC emission levels and mandate that the tests on products be kept current.

Consumer electronics is a major market for green adhesives.

In what market(s) are you seeing the most demand for your company's green products?

Downes: Obviously, California standards make that area one of the most demanding for green products. We are also seeing demand in marine applications and overseas.

Toleno: Consumer electronics is by far the greatest driver for these products.  This includes cell phones, desktops, laptops and gaming consoles.  The growing numbers of sensors and electronics within our automobiles today make automotive a close second in terms of market demand.

Wright: W. F. Taylor is primarily a floor covering adhesive manufacturer, so we definitely see the demand for green products in residential and commercial construction areas, as well as renovation for these areas. Manufacturers of various flooring materials are very interested in our products to augment the installation of their own green products.

What kind of green adhesive technologies are on the horizon?

Downes: Westech is always researching new ideas and ways to provide more environmentally friendly products. We have several ideas in prototype at the moment. We are conducting internal research and development that will lead to innovation technology that will be scientifically sound and cost-effective while emphasizing a program promoting the basis of pollution prevention.  By “pollution prevention” we mean to produce products that have environmentally benign chemistries.

Toleno: We see Halogen-free products as the next generation of materials on the horizon.  In addition to complete disclosure of all materials used in a formulation, Halogen-free will be a near-term materials requirement in the marketplace.

Wright: W.F. Taylor has developed three basic green technologies in the past two decades. The first was a family of low-solvent-containing, low-VOC floor covering adhesives. Taylor developed a patented adhesive technology called Meta-tec technology in 2001. This technology was built on the inclusion of more bio-renewable resources, and also improved the performance of the product class by increasing strength and water resistance through its patented cross-linking system.  Now Taylor has carried the Meta-tec technology further by offering alternative moisture-cure chemistry to urethanes based upon combining the Meta-tec technology with telechelic-modified silane polymer chemistry. This product is Green Guard-approved and opens up many new avenues for product development for the remainder of this decade and beyond.