Nearly 1,000 attendees at the 2008 World Adhesives
Conference in Miami, FL, listened to global industry leaders
discuss challenges and trends within the adhesives industry. The common theme
was “Reducing Environmental Impact.” Alan Bate, formerly executive vice
president of National Starch and Chemical Ltd., focused his message on reducing
environmental impact through innovation. His presentation highlighted efforts
in reducing the carbon footprint, increased recycling content in materials, use
of renewable resources and enhancing biodegradability. Bate also emphasized
sustainability through energy-reduction innovation.
Likewise, Alois Linder, executive vice president-Adhesives Technolgies at
Henkel KGaA, emphasized sustainability. He stated that sustainability is an
opportunity for the adhesives industry. In the words of Dr. Ulrich Lehner,
former chairman of the Management Board of Henkel KGaA, “sustainability equals
future viability.” Therefore, sustainability is part of Henkel’s DNA, according
While sustainability is not a new theme, greater emphasis is put on it based on
the peril our planet and future generations face. Linder shared the Brundtland
Commission 1987 report summary that stated “Sustainable development is
development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” He identified five
driving forces for sustainability in our industry.
- Public Awareness. The possibility of
raising the industry's reputation through proactive engagement.
- Legal Requirements. The increasing
number of regulations impacting the adhesives industry, such as REACH, RoHS, TSCA
and “Green Building.”
- Customer Standards. Increased focus on
“Green” solutions and banning of chemical substances from product and
- Economical Benefits. Assigning “carbon
ratings” and reduction of emissions throughout the supply chain.
- Need for Sustainable Solutions.
Innovative solutions enabling adhesive customers to reduce wastewater costs,
cleaning steps, and operating temperatures, thereby saving energy costs.
Andre Ladurelli, worldwide CEO of Bostik, characterized the need for global
energy conservation. His message to the future of the adhesives industry was
that of “Social responsibility…to become a lead industry in sustainable
development.” He said the success of the industry relies on our ability to
anticipate social expectations. Ladurelli highlighted four areas for sustainable
- Non-Hazardous Materials. Using reactive
and waterborne vs. solvent-based materials, isocyanate-free and/or
silane-modified polymers vs. isocyanates, etc.
- Renewable Materials. Developing
renewable polymers and revisiting natural materials such as rosin, starch, fatty
acid dimers, etc.
- Recyclability. Developing biodegradable/compostable
adhesives, adhesives that are recycling compatible and “de-bonding on command”
- Low Carbon Footprint. Conducting
lifecycle analysis and approaches, such as the “Green Building”
No doubt these leaders see a future vastly different from today - one where our
reliance on fossil fuels is significantly reduced. But how far along are we?
Dr. Jürgen Wegner, managing director, ChemQuest Europe, summarized the global
adhesives industry status relative to renewable raw materials. Wegner posed a
challenging question: “Does the rapid speed of progress in adhesives correspond
to the rate of innovations on bio-based polymers?”
His analysis shows that we have a long ways to go. He said that, presently, adhesives
based on renewable technology have the following pro and con characteristics.
- Favorable bio-compatibility
- Positive GHG balance
- Good price/performance ratio
- Low to no toxicity
- Suitable for low- to medium-modulus adhesives
- Often denaturation through chemical modification
- Often requires biocides to prevent microbial decay
- Quality consistency
- Limited thermal stability
Wegner forecasts global demand for adhesives based on
renewable sources to grow at 3% through 2010 (see Table).
Not included in these figures of 15+% share are those areas where the polymer
molecule is at least in part formed on natural building blocks (i.e.,
polyurethanes based on oleochemical-based polyols, polyesters and polyamides
based on dimeric fatty acids).
While we have much work to do yet, “natural”-based materials will now and in
the future play an important performance-governing role as binders and
additives in adhesives, particularly in the B2C area. With further progress in
biopolymers, it cannot be excluded mid- to long-term that this will reverse the
trend towards focusing on renewable rather than depletable sources.
more information, phone (513) 469-7555 or visit www.chemquest.com.