Sustainable glue brings recyclability and circularity to engineered wood

A new adhesive derived from purified and refined industrial bio-waste should enable 90 per cent of engineered wood products to become fully recyclable.


This is the claim of Dunnington-based BindEthics, a sustainable glue company that has won the Armourers & Brasiers Venture Prize seed funding award.

Formaldehyde adhesives used by manufacturers are toxic petrochemicals that are carcinogenic in nature. This prevents recycling and incineration, so most construction panels and furniture made from engineered wood ends up in landfill. The new adhesive, derived from extracted and purified waste, is sustainable, non-toxic and is said to mark a step-change improvement in recyclability and circularity.

“Our glue is ethically sourced, has end-of-life biodegradability and has properties suited to replacing traditional formaldehyde adhesives,” BindEthics’ co-founder Callum Smith said in a statement. “As well as being fully recyclable the glue can be produced with almost no additional cost to the manufacturer and has a carbon footprint that is 86 per cent lower than traditional adhesives.”

BindEthics first explored the possibility of a base formulation for their adhesive derived entirely from waste in 2021. This included the purification of industrial food waste by washing, filtration and centrifugation. High protein content and polysaccharides contribute to binding while other natural crosslinkers and bioderived solvents are present in the formulation.


In 2022 preliminary trials conducted at the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) in York were backed up by analytical experimental studies enabling the development of the first minimum viable product. 

BindEthics is currently working with one of the three largest engineered wood companies in the UK and one of the UK’s largest packaging companies for technical insight. The company has several Letters of Intent from relevant partners including a European distributor.

“Our next step is to identify and conduct further commercial trials with companies which are currently using toxic and synthetic adhesives,” said Smith. “A particular opportunity is with the corrugated board industry which is looking for alternatives to their starch-based adhesives which use borates, toxic substances imported into the UK. We are currently identifying companies using these starch-based adhesives, who wish to minimise their environmental impact, so they can trial our product.”

In the UK, the particle board industry uses 1000 tons per day of urea-formaldehyde adhesive valued at £388m annually. Globally, the value of the urea-formaldehyde market is £9.5bn. 

“Our vision is that our new bio-adhesive derived from food waste will replace a range of adhesives used across industry,” said Smith. “The initial focus is on replacing the formaldehyde-based glues used in the manufacture of engineered wood products, but we also envisage applications for our sustainable adhesive within the shoe and automotive industries.”