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Monday, 28 September 2020

World Adhesive Conference: Sustainability, availability of raw materials, and bio-based raw materials set the tone

Thursday, 27 September 2012 | Posted by: Sonja Schulte, European Coatings Journal

Last week I attended the 8th World Adhesive & Sealant Conference 2012 in Paris attracting more than 900 participants from around the globe. Under the conference’s official slogan "Creating the future”, the general mood was that the adhesive industry will have to face up to the issues of sustainability and bio-based raw materials if it is to succeed in this.

"Our industry is in good shape.” These words, spoken by Ramón Bacardit, President of FEICA (Association of the European Adhesive & Sealant Industry) in his opening address to the WAC found widespread agreement among attendees. But Barcadit warned that, despite this good news, there are numerous challenges for the adhesive industry to overcome. On an upbeat note, he added that the adhesive industry is in the gratifying position of being able to shape its own future, and so can be optimistic about meeting upcoming challenges. Bacardit identified these as being regulation and standardisation, sustainable development and environment, securing energy and raw material provisioning, and creating value. For participants, sustainability and bio-based raw materials were frequent topics of conversation.

Formulators must become materials scientists

Bernard Pinatel, CEO of Bostik and keynote speaker at the session entitled "The Technology Revolution”, urged adhesive and sealant formulators to become more like materials scientists in order to develop viable, sustainable adhesives. He pointed out that "materials science will be the key breakthrough for our industry, creating innovative materials which are tailor-designed at the molecular and nano-levels”. The development of smart adhesives is important for facing future challenges, he noted, we should do more with less for the good of all! And last but not least, he called upon the adhesive industry to engage in collaborative integration which, together with a spirit of open innovation, will nurture entrepreneurship and accelerate progress and transformation.

Greenwashing can harm the industry

Raw materials  availability was on everyone’s lips, too. Attendees repeatedly raised the topic of bio-based raw materials, which the industry hopes will lessen its dependence on petroleum-based raw materials and thus ensure greater availability. However, there were mutterings about whether everything which is billed as bio-based really lives up to its name. The term "greenwashing” was mentioned often, with some fearing that it could damage the credibility of the entire industry and end up doing more harm than good.

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Sonja Schulte
European Coatings Journal
Sonja Schulte
Editor-in-Chief, Science & Technology
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