Mr. Yuichi Kobayashi, President, and Representative Director
Toyo-Morton Ltd, the largest producer of laminating adhesives in Japan, has developed a new laminating adhesive, which are compatible with continuous lamination of metallised packaging structures for the industrial markets, primarily in Asia. This laminating adhesive significantly reduces CO2 and solvent emissions, including energy use for increased sustainability. Toyo-Morton operates manufacturing bases in Malaysia, Thailand, India, Korea, and China, in addition to Japan that are targeted to customers such as brand owners and flexible packaging converters.
Mr. Yuichi Kobayashi, President, and Representative Director of Toyo-Morton, Ltd shares with International Metalworking News for Asia how the company is maintaining growth backed by sustainable manufacturing process.
IMNA: Please provide an overview of the company’s operations?
Mr. Kobayashi: Established in 1975 as a joint venture between Toyo Ink Mfg. (now Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co., Ltd., the parent company of Japan’s Toyo Ink Group) and Morton International, Toyo-Morton specialised in supplying laminating adhesives from day one. The joint venture was dissolved in 2010, at which time the company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyo Ink SC Holdings. Toyo-Morton delivers high-quality, high-performance adhesive products for food and industrial applications and their support services to countries around the world via the Group's sales network and production bases.
IMNA: Tell us more about your new laminating adhesives for metallised packaging design?
Mr. Kobayashi: Environmental sustainability is now a business function that is embedded into our new product development. In response to the 3Rs of reduce, reuse, and recycle of flexible packaging materials, Toyo-Morton researchers have been working to develop and propose products with increased eco advantages, such as solvent-free or reduced-solvent adhesives for reduced CO2. This commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in the new adhesive systems we have released this year to the global marketplace.
This past summer, we launched the ECOAD™ series of polyurethane solvent-free laminating adhesive systems for the food packaging and industrial markets primarily in Asia, where solvent-based systems are dominant. ECOAD adhesive systems are compatible with continuous lamination of metallised packaging structures with two or three layers, while exhibiting a smooth appearance with no degradation to metallised films. This is a feat that had been difficult to accomplish in the past. In addition, these solvent-free adhesives contain no VOC and offer increased sustainability to packaging converters.
IMNA: What are the trends in the industries you serve that affect your decision to launch this product?
Mr. Kobayashi: Industry awareness continues to grow on the need to reduce its carbon footprint by reducing CO2 emissions and improving energy efficiency. As a result, solvent-free adhesive systems, which do not use diluting solvents, are attracting greater attention every year, and the need to expand applications for solvent-free laminating processes is also on the rise, as these products also help brands and packaging converters reduce costs by improving productivity.
IMNA: How do you view the Asian region both as a market and as an investment site?
Mr. Kobayashi: In the Asian region, especially in the ASEAN and Indian markets, we expect the growth rate of flexible packaging for food products to continue to increase. Fuelling demand is the growth in the food & beverage industry due to increasing consumer spending and rising populations in many Asian countries. Demand for food packaging that offer increased convenience or utility is also expected to help the flexible packaging market expand in Asia, in response to on-the-go lifestyles of consumer trends in growing urban areas.
IMNA: Do you have any plans to expand your operations or market reach? Where and when?
Mr. Kobayashi: The Toyo Ink Group has recently announced plans to double the laminating adhesives production capacity from the current level at its Malaysia-based subsidiary Toyochem Specialty Chemical Sdn. Bhd. Expansion work is now under way at the Malaysian site with full operation slated to begin in the third quarter of 2023. Once in operation, Toyochem Specialty Chemical is expected to serve as the mother factory of polyurethane laminating adhesives to the Asian region, especially high-performance products, an area of core competency for the Group. The Kawagoe Factory in Saitama, Japan will remain the mother factory for the global production of polyester laminating adhesives.
In addition to Malaysia, the Toyo Ink Group has recently bolstered our production infrastructure in Jiangmen, China and Turkey, and is working to strengthen its global supply chain for laminating adhesives. The Group has been developing its business mainly in Asia, and plans to expand its business in MENA, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe by 2027, with the Turkey operations serving as the supply hub. To ensure a stable supply to meet future demand, we have set a target to increase our global production capacity for laminating adhesives by one-and-a-half times the current level by the end of 2027.
IMNA: How does the company deal with pressure?
Mr. Kobayashi:In the flexible packaging market, increasing global environmental awareness requires a shift in product and service models. Our main effort is to provide products and services that contribute to CO2 reduction and to shift from solvent-based to solvent-free products. We are focusing on the development of solvent-free technologies and solvent-free laminating adhesives that match the fields and applications for which conventional solvent-based adhesives are used.
IMNA: Can you tell us what is behind Toyo-Morton’s success?
Mr. Kobayashi:As a Group member, Toyo-Morton understands how all the different packaging elements interact, provide functionality, and are even disposed of into the waste recycling stream. We work closely with our customers to make the right material choices and to ensure they get the performance and support levels that they need.
At the Toyo Ink Group, liquid inks and laminating adhesives fall under the flexible packaging group of businesses. As such is the case, the Group promotes product development and market cultivation through intra-Group collaborations and active personnel exchanges and training. This helps to create synergies between the teams and drive further innovation.
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