Afera’s recent 64th Conference, which took place face-to-face in Valencia, refreshed 100 adhesive tape industry professionals who benefitted from 14 presentations and an Industry panel debate focused around circularity. Dimitrios Soutzoukis, senior regulatory affairs manager at FEICA, the European Adhesives and Sealants Association, delivered the third presentation of the day, outlining how adhesives and sealants are enablers of the European Green Deal (EGD), the most important legislative package in Europe affecting the entire industry. Mr. Soutzoukis talked about the ongoing opportunities and challenges which the EGD and Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 present and how the adhesives and sealants industry contributes to sustainable development by offering solutions that promote circularity. Collaboration within and among industries is key. Of particular note is a closer working relationship between Afera and FEICA around the topic of sustainability, a technology partnership which was strengthened last year. FEICA works together with multiple stakeholders and umbrella associations.
Founded in 1972 and located in Brussels, FEICA is a member-oriented, value-driven organisation, representing more than 450 adhesives and sealants producers in Europe through its national association members in 17 countries, 24 direct company members and 19 affiliate company members. Interacting on behalf of its members with E.U. institutions, non-governmental organisations and its other 3,000 stakeholders, FEICA supports its vision of using the planet’s resources responsibly and efficiently by focussing on sustainable development, health & safety and innovation.
The European Green Deal
The EGD is the new anchor strategy of the European Union – the most recent ambitious package of measures designed to tackle environmental-related challenges, reduce CO₂ emissions and enable European citizens and businesses to benefit from sustainable green transition. Strategic measures accompany an initial roadmap of key policies that encompass aspirational climate action; investing in clean and affordable energy; advancing digitalisation; mobilising industry for a circular economy with a focus on packaging, construction, electronics and textiles; designing a more sustainable food system; and preserving Europe’s natural ecosystems.
5 guiding principles in support of a successful EGD
FEICA supports efforts to improve product sustainability, resource efficiency and circularity. Adhesives and sealants perform critical functions to transition towards a carbon neutral and circular economy in key applications such as those in renewables, electronics, construction, automotive and packaging. Adhesives and sealants enable durability, recycling, CO₂ reduction, repairability, upgradability and material efficiency.
The industry is committed to support the continuous improvement of the chemical and product policy frameworks to enable innovations and societal progress. Key features needed for more efficient, pragmatic and impactful chemicals legislation include coherence and shared ambition at the basis of policymaking; harmonisation enhancing regulatory predictability, crucial for investments and innovation in Europe; a chemical policy grounded on the principle of risk assessment; technology-neutral regulation as a sustainability and innovation driver; and enforcement and compliance as a focal point.
Adhesives and sealants have been creating more sustainable solutions for decades. Some of the industry’s recent innovations are described in the Good Practices on the FEICA website and on the European Commission’s European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. Significant improvements, savings and CO₂ emission reductions in a broad range of applications along different value chains:
• Durability: conservation of food through heat seals and re-closable packaging
• Recycling: label adhesives for returnable bottles and advances in recyclable packaging in the packaging industry, use of renewable materials in wooden construction, and eco-design electronics
• Energy savings and CO₂ reduction: construction-insulating sealants to improve thermal efficiency
• Material efficiency: adhesives to produce composites for lightweight automotive materials and aeroplane components (also reducing CO₂ emissions)
• Repairability: adhesives for the repair of shoes, clothing, furniture, toys, crockery, etc., adhesives in electronics enabling de-bonding components for reuse and recycling.
Supporting the E.U. aim to be climate-neutral by 2050—an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions—FEICA members are looking into different end-of-life solutions, such as recycling processes like mechanical, physical (dissolution) and chemical (chemolysis, pyrolysis, gasification, enzymolysis, etc.) recycling. Chemical recycling as an option could enable circular value chains in industries and help to decouple from fossil raw material sources.
Technical task forces
FEICA has established a Technical Task Force (TTF) on electronics (under the Sustainable Development Committee) to address Ecodesign developments. It has also set up a Sustainability and Recycling of Adhesives in Paper and Packaging Applications TTF (under the Technical Working Group Paper & Packaging) to harmonise market terminology and test methods and to develop technology-agnostic requirements for design4recycling guidelines.
For more information, visit FEICA’s “Sustainable development” page here.
About Dimitrios Soutzoukis
Having joined FEICA in 2018, Dimitrios Soutzoukis currently holds the role of Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager. He is responsible for the Sustainable Development Committee and active in the European Advocacy Group as well as technical dossiers like the Construction Products Regulation and One Component Foams. Mr. Soutzoukis graduated from the University of Ioannina (Greece) with a degree in Environmental Engineering and from the University of Bristol (U.K.) with a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management.
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