Tuesday, February 27, 2024

“Moving forward, we will see a greater shift towards sustainable adhesives”

Interview with Ravi Kumar Menon of Bostik

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shift towards sustainable adhesives
Reference image for Bostik HM2070 application

Bostik, a leading global adhesive specialist for industrial, construction and consumer markets, has launched two new innovative products for India’s tape and label market. We spoke to Ravi Kumar Menon, national sales head, tapes and labels, Bostik India, to gain his insights about the two products and the company’s strategic priorities in India. Menon also spoke about sustainability challenges, solutions and the market ahead.

Manash Das: Please tell us about the recently launched Bostik HM2060 and Bostik HM2070.

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Ravi Kumar Menon: In November 2022, we launched Bostik Themogrip HM2060 and Bostik Themogrip HM2070 to address two key trends for the Indian market. The first is the massive growth of the local manufacturing scene, which has seen a surge in demand for consumer and commercial goods. The second trend is the increasing requirements for sustainable packaging in the e-commerce industry, a sector that is expected to reach USD 350 billion by 2030.

With such fast growth in the nation’s manufacturing scene, label manufacturers are now pressured to increase their production to meet the demand. One key way forward is to increase converting speeds and achieve the greatest throughput. Bostik Themogrip HM2060 is a hot melt label adhesive that enables manufacturers across the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), pharmaceutical and logistics industries to improve productivity. It was specially developed for labels that are required to endure a high converting speed of above 100 meters per minute, ensuring better bleeding resistance in high-speed printing and converting operations.

Ravi Kumar Menon, national sales head, tapes and labels, Bostik India

Separately, Bostik Themogrip HM2070 is a tape adhesive developed to address the country’s recent ban on single-use plastics and PE-based bags with thicknesses below 75 microns. In an industry led by disposable packaging and a major driver of plastic pollution, local e-commerce sellers now need to explore environmentally friendly alternatives, and one of such is kraft packaging. Bostik Themogrip HM2070 is a compatible solution because it ensures tamper-evident sealing on kraft paper, providing kraft manufacturers with a tape adhesive that they can pass on to their packaging suppliers.

Manash Das: In what ways do you think these two products can support local producers in their sustainability journey?

Ravi Kumar Menon: At Bostik, we strive to become #SustainabilityEnablers alongside our manufacturing customers, empowering them to kick-start and enhance their sustainability journey. We strongly believe in consistently innovating our adhesive solutions to promote the shift to a circular economy.

Bostik Themogrip HM2060 is the ideal solution to resolve any obstacles from conversion speed limitations. In the adhesive coating process, only a lower temperature is required, enabling the solution to consume significantly less energy, and aiding in easier maintenance of converting machines. As such, it extends the shelf life of converting machines, minimizing wastage with less equipment.

For Bostik Themogrip HM2070, besides being a tape adhesive compatible with kraft bags, this solution also uses 20% less adhesive material than traditional Hot Melt Pressure Sensitive Adhesives (HMPSAs), making it a more sustainable option for manufacturers, and in turn, they can provide sellers with environmentally friendly packaging solutions. For manufacturers looking for more eco-friendly PE bags, the tape adhesive can also be applied to thicker PE bags with films up to 120 microns.

Manash Das: How has the adhesives market developed in the last 5 years in India/globally?

Ravi Kumar Menon: In 2020, businesses across most industries were substantially affected by COVID-19, and the industrial adhesives market was not exempted. However, in 2021, the ongoing growth of fast-moving consumer goods, e-commerce, packaged food and beverages, medical packaging, and electrical and electronics drove the adhesives market back up.

According to research by MarketsandMarkets, there is a shift in manufacturing from Europe and North America to the Asia Pacific, driving the region’s adhesives and sealants market. Countries such as India and China are now investing heavily in several end-use industries, likely influencing their adhesives and sealants market.

The Indian adhesives market is said to witness an estimated CAGR of 7% from 2021 to 2026, with the packaging industry expected to drive this demand. Moving forward, we will see a greater shift towards sustainable adhesives, with a notable increase in the use of acrylic water-borne adhesives in the local market. Like HMPSAs such as Bostik Themogrip HM2060 and Bostik Themogrip HM2070, these adhesives are seen as economically and environmentally friendly, solvent-free alternatives to solvent-based adhesives with volatile organic compounds within.

Manash Das: What are the top three strategic priorities for Bostik in India?

Ravi Kumar Menon: To meet the surging demand of goods being manufactured, label converters need to go faster to generate more output per hour. Machines must be equipped to handle larger rolls and higher levels of production. As such, Bostik India is focused on ensuring the adhesive aspect of labels on products meet elements caused by converters running at high speeds. While Bostik Themogrip HM2060 is our current solution – we do not intend to stop here. Our R&D teams are continuously looking into developing more solutions that can endure converting speeds above 100 meters per minute.

Apart from that, we focus on developing more label solutions for specialty applications. Some of these label solutions Bostik offers thus far include:

  • Deep freeze labels: adhesives that offer robust peel performance under -30°C
  • Tyre labels: adhesives that have high initial tack and can bond to the most demanding surfaces
  • Food contact labels: adhesives that are in compliance with various food contact regulations
  • Removable labels: adhesives that provide smooth peel adhesion without leaving residue

Moving forward, we will continue to leverage our expertise in specialty applications to develop more innovative adhesives that will meet the evolving needs of our customers.

Another priority for us is to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. Apart from curating adhesive solutions that offer energy savings (Bostik Themogrip HM2060) or are compatible with more sustainable applications (Bostik Themogrip HM2070), we develop environmentally friendly, labeling technologies such as our wash-off and linerless label solutions. The wash-off innovation was born from the industry’s need to offer consumers fully transparent glass bottles. Unlike most labels that tend to leave a residue when removed – which poses challenges when recycling bottles – our removable label shrinks when immersed in an aqueous mixture, leaving no residue behind in the debonding process.

Linerless labels are also ideal for addressing sustainability pressures while increasing label output and reducing overall manufacturing and logistic costs. Bostik India supports the manufacture of linerless labels with cutting-edge hot melt pressure-sensitive adhesives. These HMPSAs provide high tack and shear resistance on UV silicon release, reduce overall label downtime, offer excellent die-cut properties, address variable print length needs, and reduce coating weight to 15 gsm.

Manash Das: What do you think could be some of the challenges raw material and consumables manufacturers could encounter? How do you plan to face or overcome these?

Ravi Kumar Menon: While there has been a rising demand for more sustainable manufacturing, choosing biodegradable raw materials and consumables that offer increased recyclability or aid in reducing waste, presents both an opportunity and challenge. This is because we see more stringent environmental regulations coming up – regulations related to the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Manufacturers are usually limited to synthetic adhesives and would need to absorb the cost of producing more sustainable raw materials.

At Bostik, we invest heavily in smart technologies that not only promote more eco-friendly options but optimize manufacturing efficiency at the same time, hence reducing overall production costs while achieving sustainability goals. Our local chemists are connected to our global R&D center to leverage global expertise for more cost-effective and eco-friendly product development, passing both cost savings and green benefits onto manufacturers.

Another opportunity-cum-challenge would be the rise of sustainable packaging, with approximately 60% of customers worldwide rating sustainability as a crucial purchase criterion. While adhesives may only present a fraction of the objections they contribute to, they are still a key element in the manufacturing process. Beyond just strong adhesion, we are constantly working towards providing new packaging solutions that enable products to last longer, better insulate, promote fixing instead of replacing, and make recycling easier.

Manash Das: How do you envisage your company changing the industry in the coming years?

Ravi Kumar Menon: As #SustainabilityEnablers, we will continue to anchor our solutions and specialty business for the label industry around sustainability. With a smart identity underpinned by innovation, we will pursue greener technologies, developing smarter, breakthrough solutions.

Bostik has been responding to ever-changing market demands with innovative solutions for over 130 years. We are proud of our immense industry knowledge and technical requirements and honored to have established effective relationships with partners and customers globally. Speaking for the tape and label business unit at Bostik, with our recent acquisition of Ashland’s Performance Adhesives business, we are now in an advantageous position to support the industry with complete solutions.

With Ashland’s pressure-sensitive adhesives and, lamination and coating activities, we are working towards our parent company’s (Arkema) ambition to become a pure specialty materials player by 2024, to deliver more sustainable and higher performance solutions.

Manash Das
Manash Das
Manash Das is associate editor at The Packman. He has been contributing editorially to The Packman since 2016.

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