Sticky Soy: Natural Soy Adhesives

Soy adhesives replace toxic formaldehyde in decorative plywood.

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The bad news

Our homes are filled with plywood, from cabinets to desks and doors. The commonly used plywood adhesive, urea-formaldehyde, has been linked to cancer and other health problems. Even though soy-based adhesives have been available since the early 1900s, the building industry has favored formaldehyde-based wood adhesives because they’ve been cheaper and more effective.

The good news

A new line of formaldehyde-free hardwood plywood panels, PureBond (which uses a patented soy-based adhesive), performs better than its urea-formaldehyde counterpart and is just as cost effective. Columbia Forest Products is distributing formaldehyde-free, decorative-hardwood plywood from three of its six manufacturing facilities and plans to convert all six this year. Future uses for PureBond include particleboard and medium-density fiberboard.

To order formaldehyde-free plywood that’s also certified as sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council, contact Columbia Forest Products.