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Life Cycle Inventories for Laminating Adhesives Help Evaluate Environmental Impacts of Flexible Packaging Structures

Published on 2008-11-11. Author : SpecialChem

PHILADELPHIA -- Specialty materials company Rohm and Haas announced that converters visiting the company's booth (E-8715) at Pack Expo, November 9 to 13, hear about useful new tools for evaluating the environmental profile of flexible packaging structures: life cycle inventory analyses, which tally a product's energy/material inputs and cumulative environmental impacts over its life cycle.

"We're unique among adhesive suppliers in developing life cycle inventories (LCIs) for our solventless, waterborne (water-based) and solventborne laminating adhesives," says Nancy Smith, commercial development manager, Packaging Adhesives. "We assessed our products from their inception - growing crops or extracting petroleum - through using the adhesive in a lamination." This information is critical for customers because it evaluates the true environmental impact of business decisions like choosing among different packaging structure production methods, specifying different adhesives for new lamination applications, or switching laminating adhesive technologies. The new data also helps converters meet retailers' increasing demands for source reduction and carbon emissions reduction in packaging. Further, the information helps converters reap cost savings from their processes by reducing energy and resource use.

Produced by compiling information from many diverse sources and industry standards, Rohm and Haas's LCI data found that the company's Mor-Free™ solventless adhesives are the most environmentally advanced laminating adhesive option in its portfolio. The technology's positive profile begins early in its life cycle: energy use for feedstocks, processing and transport of these adhesives is about a third of that used for waterborne adhesives and one-fifth of that used for solventborne choices. Its environmental wins continue with far lower potentials for global warming than these other two adhesive technologies.

"Solventless technology has extremely low carbon dioxide emissions," Smith explains, adding that solventless products also eliminate energy-intensive drying and increase transport efficiencies due to higher solids. The company's LCI results also indicate that its water-based Robond™ adhesives are environmentally advanced options. Energy use for waterborne adhesives' feedstocks, processing and transport are three-fifths of that necessary for solventborne. Its global warming potential is about a third lower than solventborne adhesives.

For those customers using solventborne adhesives, Rohm and Haas's new solutions are improving the technology's LCI numbers, too. "We have higher solids offerings in our Adcote™ line that use less raw material and improve shipping efficiencies as well as reducing drying and thermal oxidizer outputs," Smith notes. No matter what adhesives customers choose, however, the company's LCI work suggests that lamination may be a more sustainable solution for producing packaging structures than alternative processes such as upgauging films, fewer layers or extrusion lamination.

Governments increasingly encourage companies to conduct Life Cycle Analyses such as LCIs on their products, and many large retailers are pushing the concept as a means to more sustainable packaging. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promotes the process, as does the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In 2002, the UNEP allied with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry to launch an international partnership called the Life Cycle Initiative. Additionally, the concept is a cornerstone of the ISO 14000 standards.

Rohm and Haas recently was awarded a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society for its acrylic technology which is used in the company's adhesive products.

About Rohm and Haas Company

Leading the way since 1909, Rohm and Haas is a global pioneer in the creation and development of innovative technologies and solutions for the specialty materials industry. The company's technologies are found in a wide range of industries including: Building and Construction, Electronics and Electronic Devices, Household Goods and Personal Care, Packaging and Paper, Transportation, Pharmaceutical and Medical, Water, Food and Food Related, and Industrial Process. Innovative Rohm and Haas technologies and solutions help to improve life every day, around the world. Based in Philadelphia, PA, the company generated annual sales of approximately $8.9 billion in 2007.

Source: Rohm and Haas Company

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