Flexible Packaging

Flexible Packaging HERBERTS™ Solvent-free

A look into the shift to eco-friendly products with high performance solvent-free adhesives

 2020-10-30       113

In the wake of the pandemic, together with the uncertainty it brings to consumers and businesses alike, it is important to track consumer sentiment and behaviour as people learn to live with the reality of the new normal.

Surveys on consumer sentiment and behaviour, shows consumers are generally cutting back on discretionary spending. However, expenditure on essentials such as food and supplies including take-outs, frozen foods, pre-packaged cooked foods and household care products are trending upwards generally.  For food manufacturers, this shift equates to a need to increase production to meet rising demand. This shift means that manufacturers need to increase production to keep up with demand. 

While this may affect some organisations, we expect that most food and packaging manufacturers would be familiar with these shifts in consumer wants, having had to adapt to them even before the pandemic. 

Most recently, consumers are paying more attention to packaging and are choosing products that are packaged so as to be more hygienic, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Growing awareness of the global climate crisis is indeed one of the major factors of the shift, with consumers being increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of chemicals and plastics – which in turn leads to how their products are packaged, taking the spotlight. 

Value in creating environmentally friendly products

To ensure that the products are environmentally friendly, packaging manufacturers or converters are looking to solvent-free adhesives, as they are a sustainable and cost-effective option. The benefits go beyond appealing to consumer wants. Here are some key advantages of making the switch to solvent-free adhesives:

  • Using adhesives that are formulated safely, containing no volatile organic compounds (VOCs); helps reduce the amount of harmful chemicals being released into the atmosphere. 

  • Higher line speeds that are 2 to 3 times faster than conventional solvent-based laminating production lines, significantly improve productivity.

  • Lower energy requirements due to the absence of solvents, which must be removed using high energy drying tunnels during conventional solvent-based adhesives laminating processes.

Making the switch to solvent-free adhesives are not all just about creating more environmentally friendly products to appeal to current consumer tastes. There are also various other advantages to the use of these adhesives. 

Solvent-free adhesives as a solution

Adhesives are deemed solvent-free if they do not use solvents as carriers in their formulations. Kilogram for kilogram, they are lighter, and do not require special flammable handling precautions during both transportation and production, since they are essentially 100% solids and do not contain solvents.  They can also provide good clarity – which essentially means allowing easy viewing of package contents through unprinted window areas of packages. 

Packaging manufacturers or converters are able to maintain a healthier and safer environment through low emission of solvent in the atmosphere. This is why, manufacturers in both food and supplies industries are pushing packaging manufacturers to adopt solvent-free adhesive technology, which can improve productivity and ensure cost-effectiveness. 

When it comes to occupational safety, solvent-free products pose fewer requirements as processing these adhesives does not involve the possibility of inhaling VOC emissions which means that there is also reduced health risk for workers. There is no need to invest in equipment to recycle solvent or extract solvent-safely for disposal in compliance with applicable environment protection laws.

These high performance solvent-free polyurethane adhesives are suitable for boiling and retort applications, which essentially means they can be used to replace solvent-based adhesives normally used to make pre-packaged pre-cooked foods in aluminium or metallized structures.

As a leading global adhesive specialist for industrial, construction and consumer markets, Bostik understands the needs of the market and has noticed an upward trend in consumer demand for convenient packaging. There is a need for manufacturers to innovate and utilise new materials to meet this demand or risk being left behind. 

New solvent-free solutions 

The Bostik HERBERTS™ 700 series was recently launched – high-performance flexible lamination solutions and smart adhesive solutions aimed at improving the performance of solvent-free adhesives while being environmentally friendly. Our new solvent-free solutions, the HERBERTS™ LF794/H180 and LF728/H128, are made using the latest, high-performance flexible lamination technology and are designed to provide a similar level of performance to solvent-based adhesives.

For solvent-free polyurethane adhesives such as HERBERTS LF794/H180, recommended for retort solutions, some of the properties include good heat peel resistance,  quality adhesion without impacting the packaged material, stable bonding strength, excellent heat resistance (up to 121°C) and chemical resistance suitable for packaging ingredients with higher additives content. For solvent-free polyurethane adhesive, HERBERTS™ LF728/H128, recommended for metalized films in boiling applications, has good anti-rub properties, low metallization transfer and ensures metalized film layer does not ‘dissolve’ after boiling. This means that packaging structure using metalized films can maintain their excellent performance with no degradation to the metalized film layer. 

Bostik HERBERTS™ 700 series can be processed on all common solvent free laminating machines and the viscosity stability depends on temperature and machine parameters. 

The introduction of HERBERTS™ LF794/H180 and LF728/H128 comes at the right time for the Asia Pacific region, which has emerged as the leading consumer as well as producer of adhesives due to increased demand domestically due to rising in income levels, and the availability of cheaper raw materials. Bostik aims to continue to research and develop new innovative solutions so that our customers can continue to have access to the best quality solutions regardless of market challenges. 

We remain committed to sharing our knowledge and expertise, and providing the best quality of adhesives for your flexible packaging.

This article was originally published in APCJ day October 2020 issue