As the corrugating industry’s workhorse, adhesives are diverse and cover a wide range of chemistries, forms, applications, and necessities. Packaging itself varies from heat-sealed polymers to plastics, foils, and paperboard.
Adhesives and sealants have a long history in shipbuilding and marine industries, providing protection against water, chemicals, weather, and environmental degradation. In the earliest days of seafaring, natural sealants such as pine resins were cooked down and applied liberally, requiring regular re-treatments.
Currently, mastic is available to commercial and DIY consumers primarily in squeeze tubes and 10-oz cartridges. Although the sausage packaging format exists as an alternative, in a 20-oz size and a smaller “mini” option (2-3.5 oz), its availability is limited—as a stroll down the sealant aisle of Home Depot or Lowes will confirm.
As continued research and development races to meet the growing appetite for sustainable adhesives, manufacturers must also push innovations in processing that reduce both waste and energy consumption.
Manufacturers and scientists are continually pushing the envelope on eco-friendly adhesives, sealants, coatings, and potting and encapsulation compounds. Demand for green and sustainable formulations is expected to keep growing due to tightening legislation, consumer awareness, and new opportunities.
By 2050, the United Nations expects the global population to reach approximately 9.5 billion people. The expectations are that millions of people will be lifted out of poverty, increasing living standards and driving demand for chemical products.
Consumer sentiment continues to drive sustainability throughout the economy and society. Consumers often view packaging as wasteful, and they demand more sustainable options as a result. Many terms, such as reuse, recycle, compost, and reduction, resonate positively with consumers.
When Kermit the Frog (voiced by Jim Henson) first sang “Bein’ Green” in 1970, few consumers were concerned about climate change. Most manufacturers didn’t focus on sustainability or tout their products’ “green” qualities (if they happened to have any). Oh, how times have changed.
Surfactants are widely used in a range of adhesives and sealants, primarily to promote the wetting of surfaces to promote adhesion. Unfortunately, some of them have been found to have suspect toxicity profiles or environmental issues.