Is Elmer’s Glue Eco-Friendly?

When making crafts, one important consideration is to use eco-friendly materials that won’t negatively impact the environment during production or after decomposition. Elmer’s Glue is a popular adhesive used for basic arts and crafts, but how does it hold up for the eco-conscious buyer?

Elmer’s Glue is generally not eco-friendly, except for one special formulation: Earth Friendly School Glue. It contains natural ingredients, and it’s washable. It’s an excellent choice for school projects and home crafts, and the glue bottle is also made of recyclable plastic.

This article will talk about how Elmer’s glue affects the environment. We’ll also consider how other glues fare in comparison.

Are All Adhesives Harmful to the Environment?

A common assumption is that all adhesives are harmful to the environment, and that’s not far off because eco-friendly glues are difficult to find in local stores. Only a handful of adhesive formulas have minimal impact on the environment; the vast majority of glues are toxic.

Some glues, like hot melt glue sticks, don’t cause damage to the environment due to a lack of chemicals that other glues contain. Rather, the processes used to manufacture and distribute these products are what makes them environmentally hazardous.

Is Elmer’s Glue Eco-Friendly?

One Elmer’s Glue formula is relatively friendly to the environment: Earth Friendly School Glue. It is 99.6% derived from plants, the bottle consists of 25% recycled plastic, the paper is 20% recycled, and the label is recycled paper, soy ink, and plant-based adhesive.

Regular Elmer’s Glue formulas contain polyvinyl acetate, which is derived from petroleum, and therefore, environmentally unsustainable. When glues like this aren’t properly disposed of, they can pollute the soil and water, damaging fragile ecosystems. While glue is safe to throw into regular trash, dumping it into soil or any household water systems can cause pollution.

Is Hot Glue Eco-Friendly?

Hot glue is another common adhesive used in arts and crafts. Hot glue sticks are virtually all petroleum-based, and hot melt sticks are made of ethylene-vinyl acetate, aka EVA. This material is still plastic but isn’t as bad for the environment as most hot glue sticks.

When thrown away, hot glue sticks aren’t usually biodegradable, but they contain no solvents, so they don’t directly cause environmental damage when thrown away or otherwise disposed of.

A large part of why hot glue sticks aren’t eco-friendly is that their production creates greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and raise the global temperature by tiny increments. This incremental change has a detrimental impact on ecosystems worldwide, affecting animals, plants, and humans alike.

Is Super Glue Eco-Friendly?

Super glue isn’t eco-friendly because of the gases emitted during its production. The factories themselves burn petroleum-based fuel to make glue, and glue production requires special chemical processes that emit further gases.

Aside from that, there’s very little research on the negative environmental impact of superglue, or even other glues, for that matter.

Recently, scientific advances have managed to create a plant-based super glue from water and cellulose crystals derived from plants. If this glue can be refined and proves as strong as mainstream superglues, demand from eco-conscious consumers could drive its popularity to the moon.

Is Any Glue Eco-Friendly?

This is a tricky question because there aren’t any truly eco-friendly glues out there. To date, the most useful materials for glue making are derived from animals, with some recent advances making plant-based glues possible. Essentially, animal connective tissues (such as horses) are boiled to create gelatin, which is a common ingredient in many food products as well.

Other options to make glue sticky are petroleum-based products like epoxy, petrochemicals, polyurethane, and cyanoacrylate polymers. Each compound has unique properties, but they’re almost all harmful to the environment during and after production, save exceptions like hot melt glue sticks.

Recent technological advances have made plant-based glues possible, but they’re far from widespread due to their relative inferiority to petroleum-based glues. While the latter can be used for wood, paper, cardboard, and other commercial applications, the former is generally limited to arts and crafts like paper and cardboard – school or home projects, essentially.

Final Thoughts

Elmer’s Glue, like most adhesives on the market, is not eco-friendly. However, the Earth-Friendly formula is almost entirely made of plant-based materials that easily break down once they enter the environment.

Other plant-based adhesive solutions are being developed but receiving limited levels of support. Whether this will be enough to ramp down animal and petroleum-derived products is unknown, but it’s possible given enough demand.

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