biomass resulting from composting biodegradable adhesive

Biodegradable adhesive inspired by need for sustainability

The need for sustainable solutions such as biodegradable adhesive and compostable glue has never been greater. The world’s population is growing, living standards are increasing and environmental concerns are becoming reality for an increasing number of industries.

Biodegradable adhesive systems now serve many industries such as packaging and paper as well as the medical sector. As the adhesive systems are under continuous development, new applications are frequently introduced. The biodegradable glue solutions allow for greener bonding and reduced environmental impact.

Compostable glue – a type of biodegradable adhesives

The terms compostable adhesive and biodegradable glue are often considered synonyms, however, that is not quite the truth. Biodegradable adhesives refer to those that break down naturally. Compostable adhesives fall under biodegradable glue, yet they require a specified process to break down. The process for compostable adhesives to break down may take place in domestic or industrial conditions depending on the adhesive formulation.

Benefits of biodegradable and compostable adhesive technology

Biodegradable adhesives, and compostable glue, first were available for a very few applications. However, their extremely green approach towards bonding encourages the development of new systems to suit a wider range of applications. Next to the general sustainability, the biodegradable glues come with more benefits.

  • No microplastic pollution: biodegradable adhesives consist of natural materials which do not lead to microplastic pollution at any stage of their lifecycle.
  • Reduced waste processing costs: the fact that biodegradable glue breaks down to natural gases and biomass reduces waste processing costs. Waste processing does not involve hazardous chemicals. Compostable glue waste is especially economical to process. The breaking down is generally faster than with other biodegradable glue systems.
  • Soil enrichment through waste: the products of breaking down compostable adhesive are suitable for enriching soil and so stimulate growth of plants. Other biodegradable solutions are not harmful to the environment, however, they do not enrich the soil as effectively as compostable waste.
  • Workplace safety: as biodegradable adhesives are free of hazardous substances, applying the adhesives is safer than when working with other adhesives.
  • Accordance with environmental planning: for example the UK Plastics Pact requires all plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Other similar acts exist and the number increases constantly.

Next to the benefits that lead to reduced environmental impact, biodegradable and compostable adhesives also offer great business opportunities. This especially for adhesive manufacturers and users. Green products are an ever-growing trend, meaning that the demand increases by the day. This leads to greater need for both the adhesives and products which use the adhesives.

Examples of biodegradable glue and compostable adhesive systems

In continuous development, biodegradable glue systems become available for more and more applications. The hottest topics of the moment that involve biodegradable glue or even compostable adhesive systems include the following.

  • Hot melt adhesives: especially the packaging industry currently benefits from biodegradable hot melt systems which guarantee an efficient process and a 100% green solution. 
  • Heat seal adhesive: again beneficial to the packaging industry, heat seal adhesives ideal for paper and biofilm applications can be biodegradable.
  • PSA adhesive: compostability can be integrated into pressure sensitive adhesives which allow for applications on tape and labels.

If you are looking to switch to biodegradable bonding, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts are happy to help you find the greener solution tailored for your product.

compostable adhesive and biodegradable glue in a bag of potato chips
Biodegradable adhesive allows for food packaging material to be converted into biomass and CO2.

How biodegradable glue works

The molecule structure of biodegradable adhesive systems resembles that of natural polymers. However, microorganisms such as bacteria break down the biodegradable materials, hence the name biodegradable. These adhesives exist as liquid solutions and hot melt solutions. During the process of breaking down, microorganisms use enzymes to break down the adhesive resulting in carbon dioxide, water and biomass.

As mentioned, compostable adhesive breaks down under specified conditions: domestic or industrial composting. Of the two processes, the industrial one is far more common among compostable glues. The products of both of the processes are also beneficial, as they are suitable for example for enriching soil.

EN 13432 – the European standard for biodegradable materials

Adhesives that are wished to be classified as biodegradable (or compostable) according to EN 13432, must pass four tests. These are biodegradation, disintegration, ecotoxicity and heavy metals test.

According to EN 13432, an adhesive is biodegradable if:

  • 90% of the total mass of the adhesive is converted to CO2 within 180 days;
  • The heavy metals in the product do not exceed the strict limits set in the standard;
  • The products of broken down adhesive can be used to enrich soil or are not harmful to plant growth in the area;
  • The germination rate and plant biomass in the compost are more than 90% of those in the corresponding blank compost.

Looking for biodegradable adhesive or compostable glue?

As organizations and individuals take social and environmental responsibility more and more seriously, the demand for biodegradable adhesives becomes greater. In case you are looking for a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly adhesive for your application, contact us. We will go the extra mile to guarantee you the best possible solution for your application.

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