Revolutionising the way manufacturers stick, bind and seal through the development of the world’s first adhesive derived from bio-waste, Callum Smith, a materials science student wins Armourers Venture Prize Award for his excellence in circular economy. On the occasion of responsible gluing, Wood & Panel celebrates excellence in innovation while indulging into a tête-à-tête with Callum. Excerpts.
How does it feel winning the Armourers Venture Prize Award for the novel innovation?
Callum Smith: Winning the Armourers Venture Prize Award is an incredible honour and a truly humbling experience. It’s a validation of our hard work and dedication to drive the future of adhesion despite the previous market adoption difficulties experienced by bio-adhesives. We’re thrilled, excited, and grateful all at once.
This recognition reaffirms our belief in the power of sustainable solutions and the urgent need to address climate-centric challenges. It’s an assurance that our efforts to create a biodegradable alternative made from waste have a genuine recognisable impact beyond the lab. Awards such as this, from renowned scientific support groups, present clear validation for our technology in an industry that has been slow to innovate and change despite the aforementioned global challenges.
“World’s first glue derived from industrial bio-waste” is a revolutionary discovery. Tell us all about it. Why do you think it is so special?
Callum Smith: This groundbreaking adhesive is truly a game-changer in the world of adhesives. What makes it so special is the way it addresses multiple challenges simultaneously.
First and foremost, the ability to derive a valuable product from a largely discarded industrial waste stream presents a step-change improvement in necessity to extract and rely upon toxic oil-based adhesion systems. We identified an opportunity to transform waste into a critical resource, giving it a second life and reducing the environmental impact of two sectors simultaneously. By utilising purified and refined bio-waste as a base for our adhesive, we are turning what was once considered worthless into a desirable solution.
Another aspect that sets this adhesive apart is its biodegradability. Unlike traditional adhesives that persist in the environment beyond the end of their applied lifetime, our glue is designed to break down naturally over time without compromising the required performance output. This feature not only promotes environmental sustainability but also ensures that our adhesive can be disposed of at its end-of-life, mitigating waste accumulation. This environmental upside when coupled with the remarkable 86% reduction in carbon emission compared to conventional adhesives present a compelling use-case.
Beyond its eco-friendly properties, what makes this adhesive even more special is its versatility and performance. It possesses properties that rival those of traditional formaldehyde adhesives, making it a suitable replacement across various industries. Manufacturers can adopt our adhesive without compromising on quality, durability, or efficiency.
Tell us about your latest innovation and how it will make wood engineered furniture recyclable.
Callum Smith: Our latest innovation revolves around developing an adhesive that will revolutionise the recyclability of engineered wood furniture. Traditionally, furniture made from engineered wood suffers from a lack of ability to recycle or incinerate the final product due to the emissions regulations stemming from the toxicity of formaldehyde-based resins. By replacing the toxic glues with our alternative, we can enable up to 90% of engineered wood products, including furniture and construction boards, to become fully circular.
The key lies in the adhesive’s tailored structure. It is not only biodegradable but also surpasses the requirements centred around strength, tack, viscosity and moisture content ensuring the durability and longevity of the furniture. When it comes to the end of its life cycle, the furniture can be easily disassembled, and the components can be efficiently reintegrated back into nature.
By eliminating the barriers to adoption of bio-adhesives, we are promoting a circular economy within the furniture industry. Our innovation paves the way for reducing waste generation, minimising the environmental impact of furniture production, and extending the lifespan of valuable materials.
What are the ways in which you think the industrial bio-waste based glue will enrich the manufacturing industry?
Callum Smith: Embracing this industrial bio-waste-based glue enables manufacturers to make significant strides in sustainability. By shifting away from petrochemical-based resources and utilising bio-waste as a raw material, they can reduce their ecological footprint and contribute to a greener manufacturing process. It’s a mutually beneficial situation where businesses can thrive while being environmentally responsible.
The adhesive also supports the shift towards a circular economy. Instead of treating waste as something to discard, this innovative solution leverages bio-waste as a valuable resource. It creates a closed-loop system, promoting resource efficiency and minimising waste generation. Manufacturers can play a vital role in this sustainable approach, helping us move away from the linear “take-make-dispose” model.
In addition to its positive environmental impact, the adhesive prioritises health and safety. Unlike traditional adhesives that contain compounds associated with a wide array of health and environmental concerns, our bio alternative offers a non-toxic replacement. It ensures a healthier working environment for employees, reducing potential health risks and improving overall well-being.
Compliance with evolving regulations is also crucial for manufacturers. By adopting this eco-friendly adhesive, companies can remain ahead and support regulatory change instead of opposing urgently needed progression attributed to shareholders interests. Governments and governing bodies are increasingly emphasising sustainable practices, and our solution allows manufacturers to align their operations with these emerging standards.
Sustainability is the way forward and the new bio-adhesive derived from food waste will replace a range of adhesives used across industry. Tell us about its application in the woodworking industry.
Callum Smith: At BindEthics we have focused on tackling two core issues currently faced by the woodworking sector; carbon emissions and toxicity.
Traditionally, the woodworking industry has depended on cyanoacrylate, polyurethane, polyvinyl acetate and aliphatic resins in conjunction with formaldehydes – all with associated health hazards. However, our bio-adhesive offers a clean, low carbon solution to mitigate these concerns.
One of its primary applications in the woodworking industry is in engineered wood products, such as plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). These products are widely used in furniture manufacturing, cabinetry, flooring, and construction.
By replacing traditional adhesives with our bio-adhesive, we can close-the-loop for these inherently circular wood-based products if we eliminate the damaging effects of current adhesives. Whilst heightened circularity is desired, performance criteria must be met for successful market adoption and so we have had to ensure our formulation delivers excellent strength and durability to meet the required reliability and structural integrity.
Additionally, this bio-adhesive facilitates the disassembly and recycling of engineered wood products at the end of their lifecycle. The adhesive’s biodegradability enables the separation of wood components, allowing for efficient recycling or repurposing. This circular approach reduces waste and conserves valuable resources, aligning with the principles of a sustainable circular economy.
Another notable aspect of our bio-adhesive is its low carbon footprint. Compared to traditional adhesives, our innovative solution achieves an impressive 86% reduction in carbon emissions. By adopting our adhesive, woodworking manufacturers can significantly contribute to mitigating climate change and reducing their environmental impact.