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October 12, 2020 - Flexible Packaging

How Adhesives Can Help Converters Achieve the “First R” Along the Sustainability Journey

“Reduce, reuse, recycle.” It’s a familiar mantra when discussing sustainability. While all three Rs contribute to a successful sustainability journey, it’s important that flexible packaging converters don’t overlook the “first R,” reduce, when determining their course of action. Why is that? What makes reduction so important?

First off, reduction efforts equate to lower material, natural resource and energy usage. Secondly, like prevention, reduction practices also have downstream impacts. If converters can minimize their footprint and the materials they use upfront, they can simultaneously reduce resource use and the volume of product that needs to be reused or recycled down the road.

There are many areas converters can look to identify reduction opportunities, such as adhesives. Here we’ll share a few questions converters can ask themselves about adhesives to ensure reduction is considered throughout the packaging’s lifecycle and determine the most sustainable path forward.

Questions for Converters to Ask Themselves to Unlock Reduction Opportunities

What Role Can Adhesives Play in Packaging Usage to Make it Easier for Consumers to Address the “First R”?

When converters think about reduction, they must think about how adhesives influence an end-user’s adoption of sustainable practices. Resealable adhesives, for example, are one way converters help consumers reduce package material usage and food waste. This is because resealable adhesives reduce the need for consumers to use secondary (or compensatory) packaging. Instead, consumers can store food in the same, original packaging. Also, when converters use a multi-layer, pressure-sensitive adhesive that is both resealable and airtight, they are able to produce packaging with a stronger seal that maintains performance even after multiple open and close cycles. This capability helps lock in freshness, reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfills. 

What Role Can Adhesives Play in the Packaging Design Phase to Make it Easier for Consumer Packaged Goods Companies to Address the “First R”?

Given flexible packaging’s many design facets, there are many opportunities to incorporate sustainable materials, processes and design elements that help with reduction. One way to achieve this is for converters to opt for solutions that lower the weight of end-use packaging. While it may seem like a negligible detail, it can drive big results when applied at scale. For example, Bostik Vitel® resins are extremely versatile and allow for the design of mono-material trays and lids. These aren’t only recyclable, but they’re also a lighter weight alternative to packaging that uses heavy mechanical closures. As a result, these mono-material alternatives can reduce product weight by up to 30%, which reduces fuel consumption during delivery and distribution.

What Role Can Adhesives Play Regarding Materials and Resources That Make it Easier for Manufacturers to Address the “First R”? 

Meeting high output and consumer demands without impacting quality or the environment is a very real challenge for manufacturers. This can add increasing complexity to their production lines. To help them, converters should explore two-in-one products that combine dual capabilities and processing steps into one SKU. This not only reduces the number of products used, but also saves time and minimizes energy usage. Furthermore, it helps manufacturers meet consumer demands. Consumers want fog-free, clear packaging and fresh food. Many manufacturers have to introduce both a heat seal coating (to achieve the desired bond strength) and an anti-fog coating (to achieve transparency) to their production lines and apply the products separately. Two-in-one products that combine both the heat seal bonding functionality with the anti-fog capability reduce converting complexity and SKUs while more easily addressing consumer demands. For more information on innovative, two-in-one, anti-fog heat seal coating solutions, visit this helpful resource page.

sustainability journey

How Can Adhesive Suppliers Aid in These Reduction Efforts?

Adhesive suppliers can also be a tremendous asset to helping converters accelerate their reduction efforts. From innovative sealing solutions to providing cost and eco-friendly reduction tips, the right suppliers can be a valuable resource. Converters, in turn, should be diligent in finding suppliers who are eager to work alongside them to audit production lines, identify opportunities and determine solutions that can reduce materials and waste within the business. At the end of the day, we can all accomplish much more if we put our heads together and embark on a shared sustainability journey.

Your Adhesive Resource

At Bostik, our goal is to support you with not only innovative adhesive products, but also expertise and partnership. If you’ve reached the point in your sustainability journey where you’re ready to explore the role adhesives can play in reducing your environmental impact, engage us as a resource. We are ready, willing and eager to work alongside you to help you achieve your sustainability goals, no matter how ambitious. Contact a Bostik expert to learn how we can help you accelerate your sustainability journey.

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