As 2030 draws closer, adhesive companies are doing their best to stick to the agenda for sustainable development. Adhesives, sealants and coatings are not often considered when we think about products that create a negative environmental impact. We tend to picture plastic debris, machinery and waste. But what holds these things together?
Adhesives and sealants are used in an array of goods and construction, from housing to boating and even common household items. Adhesives are more often than not associated in some way with larger products that pose environmental risks. This association, however, is changing.
Environmentally safer formulas from Australia
Henkel is a global leader in adhesives, sealants and functional coatings and has around 400 employees located across six sites in Australia and New Zealand. Some exciting news for Henkel Australia and New Zealand is that production of the environmentally safer Loctite PC 7218 Wearing Compound has commenced in Australia. Henkel’s adhesives are being produced at its Kilsyth plant, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, for customers in Australia and New Zealand – with the potential to extend the supply across Southeast Asia. Loctite PC 7218 Wearing Compound is a two-part, grey, epoxy-based surface coating for metals that protects against coarse particle abrasion and/or erosion, or for rebuilding worn parts.
With the environmental impact weighing on the production and reformulation of many construction and industry products, Henkel has ensured that its new and improved formula is safer for the environment and for workers who are applying these products in confined spaces. As a result, it does not pose a serious health risk from accidental inhalation and will not cause harm to aquatic life – a prominent concern for many Australians.
In addition to the product being environmentally safer, the Australian-made Loctite PC 7218 Wearing Compound is also environmentally more conscious with its packaging and reliability. The cardboard packaging of the outer box will no longer be required for deliveries within the country, thus reducing an estimated 10,000 kilograms of paper waste annually. The wearing compound will also help customers reduce downtime and improve supply chain reliability.
Henkel’s slogan does well to sum up its purpose as both an adhesive brand and innovator for a sustainable future saying, “we are pioneers at heart for the good of generations”. Their ambition and motivation are to work together on the solutions of tomorrow. Today. Every day. Both for themselves and future generations, because each shares a common responsibility.
“As a global leader in the adhesives market, Henkel is continuously developing new and innovative solutions to serve a wide range of industries. Producing Loctite PC 7218 Wearing Compound locally is a key part of our commitment to creating value through our operations and supply chain infrastructure, and specifically designed to meet the growing demand of our customers,” shared Matt Greaves, General Manager of General Manufacturing and Maintenance for Henkel Adhesive Technologies Australia and New Zealand.
Loctite PC 7218 Wearing Compound is suitable for use in many sectors, including the mining, power, steel and cement industries. Additionally, it is suitable for chemical attack applications and renews worn surfaces quickly as it is also a protective coating that can be applied to vertical and overhead surfaces.
Local production means more opportunities for jobs, expansion and self-sufficiency will drive further formula developments to meet the expectations and standards of Henkel’s customers and its industries.
“Now that we have embarked on the local production of Loctite PC 7218 Wearing Compound in Australia, it has opened doors for us to locally produce other adhesives like Loctite PC 9313 High Impact Wearing Compound in the later part of the year. Through the excellent collaboration from our operations, production and supply chain teams, we are able to further expand our capabilities and provide comprehensive solutions for our customers,” Mr Greaves said.
Adhesives are part of the recyclability approach
H.B. Fuller, another leading global adhesives provider, has also focused more on environmental sustainability with its recent joining with RecyClass – a comprehensive cross-industry initiative open to companies actively looking to improve the circularity of plastic packaging and contribute to the harmonisation of recyclability and recycled content practices.
The initiative brings together players from the entire plastics value chain to optimise plastic packaging recyclability and recycled plastic uptake while promoting the traceability of plastic waste and recycled plastic content in the European region through rigorous scientific testing and certification of innovative materials.
Reinforcing the company’s commitment to improving the recyclability of plastic products, H.B. Fuller develops adhesives used in many items of everyday life with performance and recyclability in mind, including plastic applications.
“This is an exciting and challenging period for the packaging industry. Collaboration throughout the supply chain is vital if we are to achieve changes that improve the world for this generation of consumers and the next,” said Elizabeth Staab, H.B. Fuller Global Packaging Sustainability Manager.
“Sustainability is a core pillar of our business strategy at H.B. Fuller, and we are joining RecyClass to expand collaboration across the value chain. It is important we continually invest in understanding the full plastic recycling supply chain and its greatest challenges. There are many ways that adhesives can make a positive contribution while encouraging innovation in the sector to advance the industry.”
H.B. Fuller’s strong commitment to sustainability is now a competitive advantage and drives the company to prioritise technologies that fulfill the future needs of a circular economy, changing regulatory requirements and consumer environmental awareness.
“The environmental challenges facing the world today and the demand for lower impact products need a multi-faceted and collaborative approach,” said Ms Staab.
“Moving forward, major investments – and a certain amount of risk-taking on new technologies and methods – are going to be strategic and will need to be done in collaboration with other players across the supply chain.”
In the case of plastics, H.B. Fuller adhesives is a very small, and often unseen part of the final plastic packaging. Yet they are a key performance and recycling enabler. It is a step-by-step process to make packaging more sustainable and various levers can be pulled to get energy use down, make production more efficient, use less adhesive, reduce waste, and enable the recyclability of packaging materials by carefully selecting the most appropriate technology.
H.B. Fuller continually develops efficient packaging solutions to support plastic applications and flexible packaging with performance and recyclability in mind. As the industry advances toward a circular economy, industry partnerships such as the company’s collaboration with RecyClass will be key to moving the industry forward and encouraging other brands and countries to do the same.