Environmental Concerns Result in Shifting Trends within Global Wood Adhesives and Binders Market

Wood adhesives and binders are widely utilized by the construction and furniture industries to manufacture softwood plywood, oriented strand boards, medium density fiberboards, and particle boards to be used in a wide range of applications.

The booming construction activities in Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East are largely driven the demand for wood adhesives and binders. North America and Europe also make up for a significant chunk of the overall market, fueled by strong demand.

Transparency Market Research, in a recent research report, pegs the value of the worldwide wood adhesives and binders market at US$13.1 bn in 2013, which is anticipated to grow to US$17.7 bn by 2020. If these values hold true, the market is forecast to expand at a 4.40% CAGR from 2014 to 2020.

Development of Bio-based Wood Adhesives and Binders on the Rise

Regulatory authorities such as Europe’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (RAECH) and the Environment Protection Agency in the US have, over the recent past, laid down strict norms pertaining to the use of chemicals that harm the environment. This has resulted in a shift from synthetic adhesives and binders to bio-based products. Players within the wood adhesives and binders market have stepped up investments in research activities in order to develop products with lower volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, in conformance with the prescribed norms. 

With rising environmental concerns regarding carbon footprints, companies have been developing adhesives composed of soy, starch, and vegetable oils, and these products are known to be at par with petroleum-based sealants easily available in the market.

However, being a price-sensitive market, the cost of raw materials plays a huge role in players’ willingness to shift from synthetic to bio-based wood adhesives and binders. The new formulations are also priced higher than conventional sealants and as a result, manufacturers of wood panels tend to choose cheaper products to reduce costs and sustain themselves in a cost-competitive market.

Prolonged Exposure to Formaldehyde Threatens Health of Workers

The construction and furniture industries are the largest end users of wood adhesives and binders. These products are prepared using a combination of chemistries, the most common ones being melamine-urea-formaldehyde, urea-formaldehyde, and phenol-formaldehyde, owing to their low prices. However, prolonged exposure to these compounds may pose serious risks to the workers.

A recent research by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that compared to people with no exposure, those who breathe formaldehyde fumes as part of their occupation are three times more likely to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The study, published in the Journal of Nephrology and Psychiatry, elaborates on the suspected link between formalin or formaldehyde and ALS.


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