Adhesives & Packaging

Posted on 3/26/2012 8:57:06 AM By Jeff Timm

Welcome to the new and kudos to the ASC for putting the format in place to engage the packaging industry and brand owners in all things adhesive.  My goal as part of this exciting new interactive experience is to share viewpoints, information and news via tools developed to support the re-launch of  I plan to bring pertinent issues, events, trends and discussions from the world of packaging that require adhesive solutions via discussion forums, posting white papers, and uploading web videos.  By salting the website with content that will stimulate discussion and highlight innovative new applications, the goal is to increase engagement so that brand owners, users of packaging adhesives and adhesive companies jointly will benefit from the string of interaction.  Please give it a look and add to your bookmarks!

As I thought about this first blog it was fairly obvious what I would address:  sustainability in packaging applications.  You are probably thinking ‘not another blog on sustainability’.  Well yes, it is another blog on sustainability because I want to be sure the concept of sustainable packaging is clear to all before we move forward with future packaging blogs in  Packaging seems to be the point in the value chain where the concept of sustainability transfers from the package goods brand owner to the package consumer.  One could argue that the package contents are also part of the brand sustainability footprint.  This is true, but the package plays a very important component role in defining the brand.  Unfortunately, the concept of sustainability is woefully misunderstood and comes to light when consumers are asked to define it in industry surveys.  The Sustainable Packaging Coalition sustainable package definition is the one most widely accepted in the packaging market today.

Sustainable Packaging Definition

•  Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle;

•  Meets market criteria for performance and cost;

•  Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy;

•  Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials;

•  Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices;

•  Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle

•  Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy;

•  Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop systems.

This definition encompasses the common triple bottom line concept-environmental stewardship, social equity and economic prosperity.  The overriding goal is to use less ‘old’ carbon, but as the definition suggests, there is a lot more to sustainability than using less carbon.  For a more through explanation of the SPC definition and more detail about each of the above bullet points please refer to this link:

Since a package is the sum of its components, adhesives if present play a role in determining the overall sustainability of the finished package.  If every component adheres to the SPC definition then it would follow that the whole package would also meet the definition.  Let’s be sure that packaging adhesives are sustainable and not have them be the weak link in this definition.

Are there examples that can be shared where adhesives contributed to the sustainability of a package?

I would be remiss at this point if I did not mention the ASC is cooperating with ASTM to define six terms and definitions used in the adhesive industry.  Six terms and definitions related to sustainability were submitted to the ASTM D14 Adhesives Subcommittee on Terminology for inclusion in the ASTM D907 (Standard Terminology for Adhesives). The ASTM Subcommittee reviewed and approved the submission for balloting by the full ASTM D14 Committee, beginning in January 2012. The six terms to be included in the January balloting process are:

  • life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • life cycle
  • sustainability
  • renewable resource
  • biobased products/material
  • carbon footprint

The balloting will continue through March.

Jeff Timm

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