About us
Go to AveryDennison.com

Our insights into key areas of focus

Andrew Christie
Read time
10 minutes

Advancing sustainable adhesive solutions and debonding possibilities with Avery Dennison

When it comes to adhesive applications, understanding the debonding of organic materials is crucial for various industries. At Avery Dennison, we offer a range of adhesive types, including hotmelt, emulsion, and solvent adhesives, carefully chosen based on specific requirements and desired functionality. However, ensuring sustainable debonding solutions is a constant challenge. In this article, we will explore the different methods employed in debonding organic materials, ranging from mechanical and chemical separation techniques to bio-based alternatives. By developing innovative and environmentally friendly adhesives, we strive to contribute to a circular economy and drive sustainability in the industry.

"We have an enormous amount of petrochem-based plastic in the system now. We need to focus on how to keep it in the economy and out of the natural system."

Says Andrew Morlet, CEO Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Debonding methods

Debonding in organic materials involves breaking or dissolving the carbon-based compounds. The specific debonding method employed depends on factors such as the type of adhesive used, the materials being bonded, and the desired outcome. At Avery Dennison, our focus extends beyond simply detaching a label or an adhesive bond from a surface without damage. We strive for debonding that enables 100% recyclability, reusability, and compostability of the materials.

Debonding in organic materials can be achieved using three main techniques:

  1. Mechanical separation: This involves applying force or stress, which is often employed when the intention is to remove a label or separate joined components. Heat can also be used to soften the adhesive, making it easier to debond or remove the label.

  2. Chemical separation: This method involves breaking down the adhesive polymer into its basic components. Examples include solvent immersion, where the adhesive is weakened or dissolved, and the use of chemical debonders specifically designed for debonding adhesives. Hydrolysis, which softens or breaks down the adhesive bond through a chemical reaction with water, is another example of chemical separation.

  3. Bio-based solutions: Enzymatic debonding utilizes enzymes that can break down adhesives, while microbial degradation involves the use of microorganisms like bacteria or fungi that produce enzymes or metabolites capable of degrading adhesives. Bio-based solvent alternatives derived from renewable resources, such as ethanol, limonene (derived from citrus fruits), or terpenes, can also soften or dissolve adhesives. Additionally, hydrolysis and natural heat sources, like steam or hot water, can break or weaken adhesives for easier separation.

A good ending starts at the beginning

Many of our pressure-sensitive adhesives can be mechanically separated, especially those utilizing our removable adhesive technologies. Due to their visco-elastic nature, stronger PSAs can be separated by the addition of high temperatures. This is in contrast to thermosetting adhesives, where separation is much more challenging. Additionally, some of our PSAs are designed to separate through chemical means, such as in aqueous  caustic solutions. 

With over 400 researchers, Avery Dennison is committed to helping our customers create products that are easier to recycle or reuse. To address debonding in organic adhesives and enhance sustainability, it is essential to consider both the product and the application design from the outset. Our experts can assist in optimizing these aspects to make our customers' products easier to disassemble and recycle. This is particularly important and valuable for products containing rare or expensive materials, such as EV batteries.


"80% of decisions made in the design phase will determine how sustainable your product will be in the end."

Says Rob Groen in ‘t Wout, marketing manager at Avery Dennison.

Importance of debonding on demand for EV batteries

The battery pack in today's electric vehicle represents a significant portion (approximately 40%) of the vehicle’s value. The current philosophy is to replace these batteries once they deliver only around 80% of their original performance, specifically in terms of range. This approach renders large volumes of EV batteries redundant, leading to an increasing demand for sustainable solutions that involve repurposing, reusing, or recycling the batteries.

In recycling, the current approach favors the use of high-pressure water jets to separate all the constituent materials in a process called hydro-metallurgy. This method enables the separation of valuable materials including lithium, cobalt, copper and aluminum, which can then be used to build new battery cells. However, this method is not only energy-intensive but also results in leftover materials such as thermal runaway barriers, adhesives and gap fillers being shredded and treated as waste.,

Debond on demand can significantly increase the amount of materials that can be reused to manufacture new batteries. Pressure-sensitive adhesives that can be easily debonded on demand enable the use of these versatile adhesives to create battery packs that are safer, deliver higher performance, and are easier to assemble. 

Creating sustainable adhesives lays the foundation for sustainable debonding. As a leader in materials science, Avery Dennison is dedicated to delivering sustainable adhesive solutions to help the energy storage markets recycle and reuse their products.

PSA tapes and labels are used for tracking, warning, bonding, protecting and insulating many materials and components in a typical Electric Vehicle Battery. A challenge for the battery’s second life can be to separate these.

Further reading

About the author

Andrew Christie

Market Segment Manager Automotive

Andrew Christie is the Market Segment Manager responsible for the Automotive Market at Avery Dennison Performance Tapes. He has introduced many innovative solutions to the market including light weight acoustical materials and sustainable seat fabrics. His commitment to the industry continues with delivering pressure sensitive adhesives that address the challenges facing the automotive industry today.