Sustainability is becoming a high priority for brands, as consumers call for them to be environmentally responsible and accountable. Reusable containers, less plastic packaging, paper straws, vegan friendly products - companies are recognising this change in consumer behaviour and implementing their own sustainability initiatives.
Packaging has been identified as having a significant adverse impact on the environment around us and has been highlighted through many campaigns to encourage consumers to be mindful of the devastating effect of waste packaging on our planet. As a result, words such as ‘bio-based’ ‘compostable’ and biodegradable’ are often mentioned, but what do these terms mean? And how do they affect your projects?
If a product is bio-based it means it is composed, partially or in whole, of renewable materials typically of plant-based origin. For adhesives this would mean using raw materials such as starches, tree resins and vegetable-based glycerine as opposed to synthetic materials. This is currently the most prevalent sustainable solution for adhesives. As manufacturers we can tell you the percentage of your product that is bio-based.
To be compostable products must decompose within a certain time frame without producing toxic residue. There are specific requirements set out by the European Standard EN 13432 to verify it is suitable for composting at home or industrially. Though the intention is for compostable products to end up in a composting facility with controlled conditions, it is common that they will end up in landfill. As the product is not producing toxic by-products into the landfill it is still deemed a sustainable option.
Biodegradable products are very different from compostable and the terms should not be loosely interchanged.
Almost everything is biodegradable, though a lot of products take thousands of years to complete this process. Specifically labelled biodegradable products are usually made from materials which biodegrade much faster.
The complication with biodegradable products comes when these products end up in landfill. Picture a product in a household waste bag, buried under several tonnes of rubbish. The beneficial bacteria required for the decomposing process cannot survive in this environment. When the product breaks down it creates gases which are harmful for the environment. Biodegradable products are therefore better disposed of in recycling centres or composting facilities, a fact not well known to consumers.
Though these are considered sustainable methods, the message to consumers can be somewhat confusing as to which is best for our environment.
So, what does this mean for your sustainability initiative? Looking at the complete lifecycle of your packaging, including your adhesive, is crucial to identifying improved sustainability. Pafra Adhesives have been working with customers to provide them with solutions for sustainability initiatives. If you would like to discuss working with us to achieve improved sustainability contact us today.