According to the Adhesive and Sealant Council’s most recent North American Market Report, the packaging sector makes up 59% of the market, with 4 billion pounds of product shipped in the North America (North America total market is 7 billion pounds). Packaging in adhesives covers a wide swath of products and market segments, including converting, flexible packaging, high-gloss laminating, non-woven fabrics, PSAs and even bookbinding.
Packaging leverages the full range of technology types available to a consumer goods company, including: natural adhesives, polymer dispersions/emulsion adhesives, hot melt, solvent based, reactive adhesives and water-based solutions. However, more than half of the shipments in 2012 were of the “polymer dispersions and emulsions” variety, including PVAs, acrylics, SBR, PUD and natural rubber latex.
With adhesives playing an increasingly important role within the packaging sector, the Adhesive and Sealant Council (ASC) is highlighting four trends it sees impacting the market over the next few years.
Trend #1: easy-open, easy-close features will increase
Whether it’s because of the aging population, or because of the consumer convenience trend, ASC expects that more and more consumer goods companies will add “easy open, easy close” features onto its packaging. No more “chip clips,” hard to line up closures or having to transfer product into a secondary container. Adhesives enable packaging that allows a consumer to quickly open a bag or container, use the portion they want to, then simply close it back up, ensuring a tight seal to maintain freshness.
ASC highlights some of these new packaging types on its adhesives.org website under ASC TV.
Trend #2: Recyclability
Recycling rates are going up in no small part because of the adhesives being used. Whether a company is using PET, HDPE, PVC or PP, recycling rates have hit highs, and while part of the story is the material itself, another aspect of recycling is adhesives. Over the past few years, adhesives manufacturers have worked closely with groups like the Association of Postconsumer Recyclers or the North American PET Manufacturers Association to develop recycling protocols. These protocols provide guidance on the best possible recycling process to follow to ensure adhesives wash off and are supportive of making sure plastics can be recycled or re-used.
ASC posts some of the protocols under its ascouncil.org website for members to access when considering adhesive formulation.
Trend #3: Bio-based research
Right now, in major colleges and universities throughout North America, research is being focused on spiders, geckos, soy beans and bio-mass products that can be leveraged to understand adhesive properties, and determine a path forward to commercialization. Virginia Tech, Northwestern University, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and North Carolina A&T State University are just a handful of hundreds of schools that are focused on next generation adhesives. ASC expects the learning that is occurring within academia will drive innovation over the next 10-20 years as companies develop commercial applications using the basic research being conducted now.
ASC produces an Advanced Technology Track at each of its two Annual Conventions in order to promote innovative research; ASC also works closely with the Adhesion Society which focuses 100% of its efforts on advancing basic research on adhesives and adhesion. The next Adhesion Society meeting will be February 21-26, 2014 at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego, CA.
Trend #4: Globalization
Adhesives operate in a global market, with three primary markets supporting the industry from a geographic perspective: North America, Europe and Asia. Increasingly, global brands are asking their suppliers to follow them into the growing, emerging markets, in order to successfully support expansion. Markets such as Brazil and India are getting strong support from brand owners, as the growing middle class within these countries looks for more packaging formats. China continues to expand, and even with a moderate slow down for China, the 6% ASC expects the market to grow in 2013-2014 is double the rate for the other large regions of the world.
ASC expects more companies to have a global footprint for their products and services, and supports these efforts with market reports that explore North America and Asia. The Council is also considering adding South and Central America to its market report program.
Trend #5: extra trend
ASC will continue to be a strong resource for design engineers. The Council represents 130 raw materials companies and formulators that support all aspects of the adhesive and sealants space. One of the programs the Council manages is the websites adhesives.org and sealants.org. Both sights provide information, connections to the entire supply chain, and can be leveraged by any design engineer to move a project forward using adhesives. ASC TV, Ask the Expert, Industry Bloggers, Vendor Select and the adhesives.org newsletter are all features of the site, and worth the time for any design engineer to review and use as a resource when considering any aspect of adhesives.
The adhesives market is growing and evolving for use in the packaging sector. Watch for these trends impacting the adhesive market over the next few years.
The Adhesive and Sealant Council is a trade association based in Bethesda, MD. Working with its 131 member companies, ASC delivers value by providing training opportunities for industry professionals, serving as the industry’s voice on all regulatory and legislative matters and proactively connecting members to innovation. The Council was created in 1958 and currently represents the complete adhesives and sealants supply chain, including raw materials suppliers, formulators and equipment companies.