Water-based inks and adhesives as a valuable contribution to sustainability
BASF’s water-based resins for inks and water-based adhesives in flexible packaging are an economically compatible and environmentally friendly alternative to solvent-based technologies. This is the result of a recently completed Eco-Efficiency Analysis conducted by BASF and based on previous Eco-Efficiency Analysis for water-based printing inks for flexible packaging in 2009 as well as data from a recent EEA for adhesives in 2016. The study considers a broad range of environmental categories of the final product and its raw materials along the life cycle of a product, including its disposal or recycling (cradle-to-grave) ranging from climate change and resource depletion to water over-fertilization.
The BASF Eco-Efficiency methodology was validated by NSF International while the results of the study were critically reviewed by DEKRA as an independent third party.
The outcome of the EEA demonstrates that water-based inks and adhesives lead to a higher eco-efficiency than solvent-based inks and adhesives. The main driver of environmental differences among the alternatives is the production of inks and solvents.
The analysis showed that solvent-based inks and adhesives perform worse in all impact categories which is mainly due to the environmental impact related to the production of the organic solvent for use in the printing process, ink raw materials and adhesive production. Furthermore, the EEA demonstrates that a shift from solvent-based inks and adhesives to water-based technologies will allow a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2equivalents) of up to 15%. This reduction of the carbon footprint is of increasing importance for brand owners and converters.
Water-based technologies also have a positive impact on health and working place safety. “As water-based inks and adhesives contain neither organic solvents nor aromatic isocyanates, production risks are reduced to a minimum”, says Ulf Neidlein, Vice President Business Management Resins & Additives Europe. “They offer a great improvement in industrial safety and are therefore an important step towards more sustainable and safer solutions for flexible food packaging.”
The results of the EEA reveal that solvent-based inks and adhesives have the highest overall costs, due to a high volume of required solvents. “Conversion to water-based systems will result in reduced investment and maintenance costs since solvent incineration or recovery will not be required anymore”, adds Jürgen Pfister, Vice President Dispersions for Adhesives & Fiber Bonding Europe. “Furthermore, the overall production time for our customers can be significantly reduced with water-based adhesives as converters can laminate and deliver within one day.”