Preventing environmental damage is an objective that is at the heart of Productos Colcar’s activities. To this end, we have set out to launch biodegradable and/or compostable hot melt adhesives on the market that can be recycled along with the product to which they are applied, a revolution that is still in the research phase but which we hope to be able to market in the near future!
Research for Productos Colcar is crucial. Our laboratory does not rest. We carry out tests and more tests until we find the ideal product to offer our customers, according to their needs.
Currently, in collaboration with a leading company in the sector, we are researching the development of biodegradable and/or compostable hot melt adhesives.
This is our next challenge! These sustainable adhesives are gradually acquiring an important role in the market among manufacturers and consumers who, like us, prioritise care for our environment above all else, seeking to produce and, at the same time, buy products that are more respectful of the environment.
Benefits of a biodegradable hot melt adhesive
Assessing the impact of hot melt adhesives on the sustainability model of this industry is very difficult. Because, despite what it may seem, hot melt adhesives are present in an infinite number of sectors and products.
What we do know is that “a biodegradable glue could prevent environmental degradation”.
One of the definitions of the word biodegradable refers to “a product or substance that can be broken down into natural chemical elements by the action of biological agents, such as the sun, water, bacteria, plants or animals”.
Sometimes it will not be possible to make biodegradable hot melt adhesives, in which case we are trying to make them “compostable”, which means that they can degrade by the action of organisms (biologically) producing carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass in a controlled period of time. In this case, we will need the help of some bacteria and temperature for the degradation process to take place.
Another option is to apply recyclable hot melt adhesives together with the substrates to which it is glued. This can be achieved by gluing the substrates with adhesives of the same or very similar chemical nature as the substrates themselves.
As you can see, at Productos Colcar we are moving in several directions, all of them aimed at improving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint on our planet, which, as well as being necessary, is essential. We are more green!
This is the opinion of our colleagues in the laboratory, for whom “using this product would reduce costs and, of course, the waste generated”.
However, they themselves have identified a problem that holds back the development of such adhesives: cost-effectiveness. In their opinion, although 70-80% of the adhesive could be recycled, this process is very costly both energetically and economically.
This, coupled with the high cost of the raw materials needed to develop them, would make it difficult to market such sustainable adhesives at the same price as current adhesives, with the consequent increase in prices.
A biodegradable or compostable hot melt adhesive could prevent environmental degradation, something that is happening with commonly used petroleum derivatives.
In the case of recyclable hot melt adhesives, the most feasible thing would be, in the specific case of mattresses, instead of separating the adhesive during the recycling process, to try to make the adhesive as close as possible – chemically speaking – to the polyurethane (PU) foam of the mattress or any other substrate used. Only then, we could melt it all together.
Currently, the biodegradable alternatives on the market are adhesives developed based on natural materials with biopolymers such as polylactic acid (PLA), polybutyrate (PBAT), biodegradable polyesters, etc., whose formulation is fused with biodegradable resins and plasticisers.
In our case, we are researching the design of biodegradable adhesives formulated with biopolymers – PLA, PLC (polycaprolactone) and PBAT, among others – together with natural resins such as rosin and “bio” plasticisers.
We are still testing different alternatives, so it is too early to determine which will work best. What we are considering is to use a polymer from a polypropylene, in which case in the mattress recycling process it would not be necessary to separate it from the pocketed spring fabric of the mattress due to their similarity in composition and they can be recycled together. This option would be less “bio” compared to PLA, PLC, etc., but much more environmentally friendly than the adhesives we currently manufacture.
Regarding the uses of this new generation of biodegradable adhesives, our colleagues in the lab say that “for the moment, we could apply them to mattresses and packaging. Later on, we might be able to implement them in other sectors”.
We are researching the development of biodegradable and compostable hot melt adhesives formulated with biopolymers and natural resins such as rosin and “bio” plasticisers.
Recycling unused hot melt adhesives
In the meantime, at Productos Colcar we continue to contribute to environmental friendliness by recycling our unused adhesives to produce new ones, provided they are similar in formulation, and in small quantities to avoid compatibility problems.
We manage to recycle 99% of these adhesives and/or their manufacturing waste.
Our hot melt adhesives, because they are applied to substrates, could be recycled in a very high percentage if temperature is applied to them. This, which at first sight seems very simple, usually involves a high economic cost, as the work consists of separating the different parts of the final product, melting the adhesive, collecting it and sending it back to the manufacturer. But technically it is feasible, whether or not to do so is related to the economic cost.
If we can separate the adhesive, we can recycle the substrate without losing any or very few of its initial characteristics. There will always be materials where the glue will penetrate into the material, making recycling difficult.
For example, plasticised surfaces can be easily cleaned, while materials such as cardboard or fabric – as in the case of mattresses – are more difficult to clean, as their permeability favours the filtration of large quantities of glue.
In conclusion, we can guarantee that making efficient adhesives and, at the same time, contributing to a more sustainable future for various industries is part of our DNA. We will continuously improve our products and services, developing innovations that are as environmentally friendly as possible, without losing sight of their original function.
If you need more information, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.