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How can epoxy resin be classed as eco-friendly?

Joanne Hedger making Jewellery

Harmonite pendants are naturally sourced materials set in resin and strung inside real acorn caps on waxed-cotton cord, but how eco-friendly really is man-made epoxy resin? 

I get asked this question all the time and I used to find it hard to answer, especially given the fact that epoxy resin is essentially a type of plastic. But what many people don’t know is that resin comes in many forms and can be manufactured from many different materials, with varying degrees of sustainability and impact on the environment. 

We use biodegradable plant-based resin for our pendants, and there are more and more becoming available as the hunt for plastic alternatives ramps up.  Here’s an introduction to the different types of epoxy resin in use today;

Bisphenol A (BPA) Epoxy Resins: These are the most common type of epoxy and are produced using bisphenol A as a key raw material. BPA resins have been widely used in various industries. However, they have raised concerns due to the potential leaching of BPA, which is not considered great for the environment at all, having negative impacts on human health and ecosystems.

These conventional epoxy resins are also synthesized through energy-intensive processes, having a high environmental impact due to the extraction and processing of crude oil, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental effects.

Bisphenol F (BPF) and Bisphenol S (BPS) Epoxy Resins: These are alternatives to BPA epoxy resins, designed to address some of the health and environmental concerns associated with BPA. While they may have reduced BPA-related risks, they still share some similar environmental and health concerns, albeit to a lesser extent.

Bio-based epoxy resins: are produced from renewable resources such as plant oils or lignin from wood pulp. These resins can have a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional epoxy resins because they reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Polylactic Acid (PLA): PLA is a bio-based thermoplastic derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugarcane. It is used in packaging, disposable cutlery, textiles, and 3D printing.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA): PHAs are a family of bio-based polyesters produced by bacteria that feed on plant sugars or lipids. They are biodegradable and have applications in packaging, agriculture, and medical products.

Bio-Based Polyethylene (Bio-PE): Bio-PE is made from sugarcane ethanol and is used similarly to conventional petroleum-based polyethylene in various applications, including packaging and containers.

Cardanol-Based Resins: Cardanol is a component derived from cashew nut shells and is used to produce epoxy resins with potential environmental benefits.

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