Glue, historically, is indeed made from collagen taken from animal parts, particularly horse hooves and bones. In fact, the word “collagen” comes from the Greek kolla, glue. This practice has been going on for thousands and thousands of years; it’s not the invention of some enterprising farmer named Elmer who had a few about-to-be-put-down horses on his hands, a knack for organic chemistry and a vat of boiling water. So, yes, as unpleasant to think about as it is, glue can contain animal-based ingredients (nowadays it’s mostly cattle hooves). Adhesive aficionados seem to gravitate towards fish and hide glues. But honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to say that there are many horse-slaughtering glue operations still out there since synthetics are so much cheaper and effective.
According to the company, no horse or any other animal is (currently) harmed in the making of their product. Elmer’s Glues, like many commercial “white” glues these days, are 100 percent chemical-based, which, depending on how you look at it, is worse than reusing the body parts of dead ungulates.
Elmer’s Glues are chemical based. They are made or formulated from chemicals which are synthesized (created by man). These chemicals were originally obtained or manufactured from petroleum, natural gas and other raw materials found in Nature. The exact formula and specific ingredients used in making Elmer’s products are considered proprietary information, therefore, we cannot share those with you.
Sadly, there aren’t a ton of non-synthetic, vegan glues on the market, at least ones that are classroom-friendly. There’s nontoxic, made-in-Italy Coccoina Adhesive Glue Sticks but they can be pricey and hard to come by. Plus, they smell like marzipan so any students already prone to paste eating might be tempted to snack on the craft supplies.