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Werner & Mertz Professional at Interclean 2022: Crowds rush toward the circular economy

Tana-Chemie GmbH auf der Interclean 2022. Copyright: Tana-Chemie GmbH

Interest in sustainability and the circular economy is growing by leaps and bounds in the professional building cleaning sector. That’s the take-away for Tana-Chemie, the Professional Divison of Werner & Mertz, from this year’s Interclean trade show in Amsterdam. Several hundred companies presented their latest solutions and concepts for professional cleaning from 10 to 13 May in the Netherlands capital.

At the Werner & Mertz Professional booth at Interclean, visitors from all over the world got a good look at the newest products, services and digital tools from the eco pioneer. As usual, the company’s fair presence revolved around the key concept of a sustainable circular economy. “It was fantastic that after a purely digital interlude in 2020, we could finally talk face-to-face with customers,“ says Thomas Ulbricht, CEO of Werner & Mertz Professional. “The atmosphere among the fair visitors was very positive and the interest in our products and topics was enormous.” 

Compared to the last live fair in 2018, it was easy to see that sustainability has become the focus of all companies at Interclean, according to Mr. Ulbricht. “As a long-time pioneer of the circular economy and ecological product design, we obviously benefit from this new eco awareness. Which, not least of all, could be seen in the large crowds at our booth.” 

The transition to the circular economy

A highlight at the Werner & Mertz Professional booth was a three-dimensional installation that demonstrated the two recycling loops for Green Care Professional brand cleaning products. In one, plant-based raw materials that go into the cleaning products from Green Care are biologically degraded in nature and returned to the biological cycle. The packaging made of high-quality recycled plastic and designed for recycling is kept in a closed technical cycle.

“In this eye-catching model, our customers can see how our products support them in speeding up their transition to the circular economy,“ Mr. Ulbricht says. “It was quickly clear to many visitors that our cleaning solutions also raise customers‘ sustainable use to a whole new level. And that’s made possible without any extra effort from the user. Our Green Care portfolio is a sure way for our customers to become heroes of the circular economy.”

One of the products and digital tools available to users pushing the green transformation in their own companies is the Green Care Academy, an innovative continuing education program for cleaning professionals. On this newly developed eLearning platform, professional cleaning staff have access to practical instructional videos with easily understood information about daily work routines.

Using the free online tool Green Care Performance Calculator, visitors at the booth could find out how many tons of plastic waste, crude oil and greenhouse gases they could avoid by switching to sustainable cleaning products from Green Care Professional. With KLIKS – Pouch, the company introduced a sustainable innovation for its KLIKS dosing system. Now Green Care concentrated cleaners are available in space-saving plastic pouches whose design purposely eliminates all unnecessary packaging material.

Guest speaker at INPACS GmbH

Werner & Mertz Professional went outside its own booth to share the message of the innovative power of a sustainable circular economy. Xiaoming Bai, International Marketing Director at Werner & Mertz Professional, was invited to speak at the INPACS GmbH booth. In his keynote address, Bai led the audience step by step through the transitional process to a successful circular economy and spoke about what the European Green Deal means for the professional cleaning sector.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Werner & Mertz is leading the world in the use of post-consumer recyclate!

Global progress report highlights the success of German medium-sized enterprise

The current progress report issued by the internationally known Ellen MacArthur Foundation clearly shows that the medium-sized company Werner & Mertz not only set lofty goals for recycling use, but also has taken a worldwide lead in implementation.

Those goals – by 2025 all packaging will be 100% recyclable and made of 100% post-consumer recyclate and no new plastic will be used – were first announced by Werner & Mertz at the Our Oceans Conference on Malta in 2017. One year later, the Mainz cleaning products company officially pledged to meet those goals as part of the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment. Within the framework of the initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, more than 500 signatories around the world have committed to achieving ambitious targets for the sake of a functioning circular plastics economy. Among them are companies that account for 20 percent of the world’s total plastic packaging, governments, investors and other organizations. All signatories have committed to achieving a common vision:

  • Elimination of all problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging
  • Advancement of innovations so the plastic we need is reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • Keeping plastic in a closed cycle so that it cannot land in the environment and cause damage there

Implementation of the goals is documented annually in a progress report.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation released the third progress report in November 2021.

More than 570 million plastic bottles of 100% Post-Consumer Recyclate to date

While many of the signatories strive to convert their plastic packaging to PCR for only some of their products or brands, Werner & Mertz is one of the few pursuing the goal of converting all packaging to 100% recyclate. The Mainz-based company has shown that it is equal to the challenge. Thus far, 53.9% of all plastic packaging throughout the entire portfolio is now made of 100% used plastic. That’s a world record in comparison to all signatories of the Global Commitment!

In its progress report, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation repeatedly singles out Werner & Mertz as a highlight. Werner & Mertz is the only signatory in its sector that will do without virgin plastic completely by 2025. The medium-sized company has already distinguished itself from others in the industry by using the highest share of Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR) in its packaging.

Steadily increasing recyclate share clearly shows pioneer role

Werner & Mertz has converted all the transparent PET bottles for the Frosch brand to 100% used plastic. For the company’s entire brand assortment, which includes Frosch and Green Care Professional, the brand for professional cleaning, the rPET rate stands at 99.2%. In addition to post-consumer material from the European deposit bottle collection (Bottle to Bottle), since 2014 the company – as a major exception in the market – has used a high share of recycled material from European household waste collection systems like the Yellow Bag (now at 50%). To date, more than 570 million such bottles have been put in the retail market – a world record!

The company already produces a large share of its HDPE bottles from 100% post-consumer recyclate. All bottles and five-liter canisters for the brand Green Care Professional are made from 100% Post-Consumer HDPE Recyclate. The cartridges for the Quick & Easy product rage also consist of 100% recyclate that comes from the household waste collection.

«The recyclability of packaging makes sense only when recyclate can be put to high-quality use. In recent years the use of recyclate in packaging has increased too little, as shown by the data in the current progress report. Unfortunately, fresh crude oil, which enjoys tax exemptions, is still less expensive than Post-Consumer Recyclate and that’s why many companies continue to use virgin plastic in their packaging. Voluntary commitments by a few companies cannot achieve climate protection goals. Governmental action is called for here,» says Reinhard Schneider, owner of Werner & Mertz.

Working together for sustainable tourism: Green Care Professional and Green Key continue their partnership

The eco label Green Key and the Green Care Professional brand of Tana-Chemie GmbH have extended their partnership to 2024. The non-profit run eco-certification for environmentally friendly accommodations and the Professional Division of Werner & Mertz, the Mainz-based cleaning products manufacturer, joined forces in 2019 to promote sustainable solutions for washing and cleaning in the tourism industry.

Green Key is a voluntary eco certificate for hotels, hostels, campgrounds, attractions, conference centers and restaurants. Green Key certification is based on strict criteria for sustainability management and sustainability training of personnel and suppliers. Compliance with the criteria is checked in annual audits. Currently, more than 3,000 facilities in more than 60 countries bear the Green Key seal. The program is administered by the international charitable organization Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

Green Care Professional is one of the world’s leading sustainability brands for commercial building cleaning. The hygiene solutions of Tana-Chemie GmbH are distinguished by their environmentally compatible ingredients and innovative recycled packaging made from used plastic. For its unwavering focus on sustainability in all business areas, the Professional Division of Werner & Mertz was awarded the sought-after platinum medal by the CSR rating agency EcoVadis. That officially puts Tana-Chemie among the most sustainable companies in the world.

Performance Calculator: Online calculation of ecological benefits

Collaboration with Green Care Professional delivers real support to Green Key member companies as they work to achieve their sustainability goals. Since 2019 Green Key has made available its stand-alone version of the Green Care Performance Calculator from Werner & Mertz Professional. With the online tool, companies can figure out how much the conversion to sustainable cleaning products reduces their own ecological footprint.

The Performance Calculator yields concrete data on how many tons of plastic waste, crude oil and greenhouse gases a user can spare the environment by using environmentally friendly products. The tool is available to certified members on the Green Key Website under the heading «Washing and Cleaning».

«We are very happy that we can continue our successful collaboration with Green Key in the coming years,» says Thomas Ulbricht, Head of the Professional Division of Werner & Mertz. «Wherever Nature is destroyed by climate change and pollution, the tourism industry loses one of the most important basics for its business. Therefore, together with Green Key, we will continue our work of explaining to owners and guests the environmental benefits of a functioning circular economy.»

About Green Key Green Key is a voluntary ecolabel for hotels, hostels, campsites, holiday parks, small accommodations as well as conference centres, attractions and restaurants. The Green Key award is based on compliance with strict criteria in the areas of environmental management (water, energy, waste, cleaning, etc.) and sustainability education (staff, guests, suppliers, etc.). Compliance with the criteria is confirmed through a rigorous application process and verified at on-site audits. The award is valid for one year at a time. Currently (May 2021), more than 3,000 establishments in 60 countries are Green Key awarded. The programme is managed by the international charity, the Foundation for Environmental Education. Green Key is endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and its hotel criteria are recognised by Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

FEE International Head Office Green Key International
Scandiagade 13
2450 Copenhagen SV
Denmark
info@fee.global
www.greenkey.global

Tana-Chemie GmbH receives the highest rating from EcoVadis

For many years, Tana-Chemie GmbH, the Professional division of Werner & Mertz, has been recognized as the sustainability pioneer in professional cleaning products. Once again, the company has lived up to its reputation. In June 2021 the Mainz-based cleaning specialists received a Platinum medal for sustainable business from the renowned CSR/Sustainability rating agency EcoVadis. That designation places Tana-Chemie among the most sustainable companies in the world because the best score is awarded in only one percent of all cases.

Since 2007 EcoVadis has assessed companies’ environmental and social practices. The ratings are made in four assessment classes of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. More than 75,000 companies in 200 industries around the world engage EcoVadis to assess their value chains objectively. In many industry sectors the rating has become a key prerequisite for receiving approval as a supplier. The demanding audit encompasses 21 indicators in the four major themes of Environment, Labor and Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement.

With the Platinum rating, Tana-Chemie receives the second EcoVadis rating in its history and takes a direct leap from Silver status into the top group. The themes of Environment and Sustainable Procurement played an important role in the rating. EcoVadis gave positive assessments for the use of recyclable packaging, the utilization of renewable energy and the reduction in water consumption by means of innovative methods, including re-use of water from operational processes.

Business partners of Tana-Chemie can thus enjoy transparent insight into the entire supply chain. They benefit from the continuous improvement of the comprehensive criteria in all areas covered by the certification process. And that creates lasting trust.

Sustainability at all levels

«We are very proud that EcoVadis has awarded us the highest rating,» said Thomas Ulbricht, Head of the Professional Division of Werner & Mertz. «This result reflects our years of efforts to promote the circular economy with our products and packaging and to fulfill our economic, social and ecological responsibility at all levels.»

For a long time the Professional Division of Werner & Mertz has proven its integrally sustainable approach with comprehensive certifications. Among them are EMAS, the world’s most demanding environmental management system and the sustainable building standard «LEED Platinum» awarded to the Mainz headquarters. In 2013 the Green Care Professional brand products were the first professional cleaning agents that were Cradle to Cradle Certified® at the Gold level.

Together with its parent company Werner & Mertz, Tana-Chemie actively supports effective recycling of plastic from post-consumer waste collections within the Recyclate Initiative for the benefit of the circular economy. Established in 2012, the Initiative has received several awards for recycling achievements such as bottles made from 100% recycled polyethylene obtained from the Yellow Bag and the development of a completely recyclable refill pouch.

In addition, Tana-Chemie is collaborating with NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) and the Forschungsgruppe für Recht und Management öffentlicher Beschaffung (FoRMöB) at the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich to advance the issue of green public procurement.

An important step to more sustainability: European Customer Synergy S.A. and Tana Chemie GmbH enter into strategic cooperation

Integrally sustainable cleaning under the banner of the circular economy. With support of this cause, Tana-Chemie GmbH, part of the family business Werner & Mertz that’s known for the Frosch brand, won over the pan-European company European Customer Synergy S.A. (ECS). Operating as a strong network for facility services, ECS offers an extensive portfolio ranging from single services to integrated facility management solutions. Effective immediately, the Professional Division of the Mainz-based cleaning products manufacturer Werner & Mertz joins the ECS «Preferred Supplier Program». That means offerings from ECS will include cleaning products from Tana-Chemie with a special focus on the eco brand Green Care Professional.

The Green Care products from Tana-Chemie are developed according to the Cradle to Cradle® principle. From the outset they are designed to be suitable for closed material cycles, that is, their materials can be returned completely and harmlessly to the biosphere or recycled for qualitatively high re-use. Cradle to Cradle® Design includes a detailed evaluation key to assess the materials used and their recyclability, use of renewable energy and CO2 management, prudent use of water and social responsibility. In 2013 the brand Green Care Professional was the world’s first professional cleaning portfolio to receive the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold award.

Since the end of last year, Tana has been the sole supplier of cleaning chemicals for maintenance and special cleaning to ECS Shareholders WISAG Gebäudereinigung GmbH & Co. KG., which has customers throughout Germany. For some time now the market for facility services has not been purely national. “There’s great potential there”, says Thomas Ulbricht, Head of the Professional Division of Werner & Mertz. «The cooperation between Tana-Chemie GmbH and ECS with the Preferred Supplier Agreement supports us in our plan to anchor integral sustainability in professional cleaning beyond the German borders.»

“In facility management services for international customers, ECS emphasizes sustainability, environmental protection and quality in its use of resources and materials. To support those efforts, the company entered into a partner agreement with Tana-Chemie GmbH, the Mainz-based manufacturer of hygiene and cleaning products. The products convince users with their quality, low-dosage use and – unique to the market – packaging made of 100% recycled plastic. We look forward to our close cooperation,» says Thomas Fastenrath, CEO at ECS. «From now on we will include the Tana products in our sustainability concept for new and existing customers.»

About European Customer Synergy S.A. (ECS): European Customer Synergy S.A. (ECS) is a Pan-European facilities management company, headquartered in Brussels (B), delivering a full suite of facilities management services varying from single services to integrated facilities management solutions. ECS proactively manages its customers’ facilities management operations and real estate portfolios by exploiting its local expertise, European experience and technology. The goal is to be the leading local owner-driven pan-European facilities management services provider, appreciated for delivering peace of mind, top quality, and value enhancement for owners and tenants. Each customer is different. That is why ECS offers tailored integrated facilities management solutions. Based on a thorough analysis of customer needs, requirements and strategic objectives, ECS develops an industry-leading solution.

Werner & Mertz makes a quantum leap in recycling

Cleaning products manufacturer increases rPET share in its bottles to 50% from the household plastic waste collection „Yellow bag“

A sensational breakthrough for the circular economy is announced by Werner & Mertz: The Mainz-based manufacturer of detergents, care and cleaning products, together with its cooperation partner ALPLA, has increased the share of recyclates from the household waste collection „Yellow bag“ in its PET bottles to 50%! The PET Recycling Team Wolfen has now achieved what many considered impossible.

Green Care Professional: New recycling bottle standard for professional cleaning detergents

All PET bottles of the Green Care Professional brand will be converted to the new material by the end of the year. This will make Green Care Professional, a brand by Tana-Chemie, which belongs to the Werner & Mertz Group, the first professional cleaning detergent brand with bottles not only made of 100% recycled plastic but even up to 50 % of this recycled material coming from real post-consumer waste.

Advanced Mechanical Recycling thanks to fully automated plant

Back in 2012 Werner & Mertz, ALPLA and other cooperation partners along the entire supply chain brought the Recyclate Initiative to life. In their joint efforts since then, the collected used plastic known as «Post Consumer Recyclate» or «PCR» is reprocessed at high quality, used again and thus kept in a closed loop. In 2014 the Initiative succeeded in converting PET bottles for the well-known Frosch brand to 100 percent PCR, 20 percent of which came from the Yellow Bag. The remaining 80 percent was from the European beverage bottle collection system (Bottle to Bottle). More than 400 million such bottles have since been put on the market.

Werner & Mertz has long worked to raise the share of material obtained from the Yellow Bag. With the technology previously available, it was not possible to achieve the desired transparency with rPET. A decisive step forward was taken in October 2020 when the PET Recycling Team Wolfen GmbH got to work. More than 8 million EUR was invested in this joint venture established by ALPLA and FROMM, the parent company of Team Wolfen.

In the new recycling plant nearly everything is fully automated. The PET, delivered by trucks to Wolfen, comes from the Yellow Bag or Yellow Bin exclusively from German collection systems and plastic processors and goes through presorting in lightweight packaging equipment. At the Wolfen site the transparent PET and colored PET are separated. In this fine sorting, the focus is on PET hollow articles such as non-deposit PET bottles, PET bottles for household cleaners and plastic trays. The residual material is likewise separated. The high-quality fine sorting is an advanced development of Near Infrared (NIR) technology. In the next step Textplast GmbH turns the recovered material into transparent granules, which are then further processed by ALPLA into preforms and bottles. In this way the recyclable material from Germany is recycled in Germany and processed again into bottles for international companies. It is a completely national solution in which transport distances remain low.

«Werner & Mertz is not just a long-term and valued customer for us, but also a catalyst for the entire industry. We hope that this example will motivate other companies to use high-quality recyclate. Everyone is talking about sustainable packaging. Together we are proving that it works,» says Georg Lässer, Head of Corporate Recycling for the ALPLA Group.

Reinhard Schneider, owner of Werner & Mertz, emphasized that the look and feel of the new bottles do not differ from the previous packaging. «The customer won’t notice a difference in the quality. We won’t say which format will be converted first. We did the same with the change to 20 percent from the Yellow Bag in order to see the reaction. Conclusion: none at all. No one noticed. For us that is the best proof that genuine sustainability is possible without giving something up or making half-hearted compromises.»

Demands for statutory incentives for the use of PCR

The example shows that high-quality sorting technologies are available and the quality of the recyclate is high. Why then is Werner & Mertz practically alone in using recyclate from the Yellow Bag?

Schneider says, «The high costs of recyclate compared to virgin plastic still scare away many manufacturers. This problem has been made worse by the declining price of crude oil. If the demand for high-quality recyclate does not grow, there is no reason to invest in better sorting and processing as ALPLA has just done in a big way. And yet, recycling will become more economical as more companies get involved. It’s an enormous opportunity.»

That’s why Werner & Mertz is demanding that lawmakers create financial incentives for the use of PCR, which would effectively counteract the trashing of our planet and achieve the goal of a climate-friendly circular economy for plastic. Werner & Mertz advocates setting up a fund system to which all companies that bring plastic packaging to market would contribute. Those who use Post Consumer Recyclate would then receive a reimbursement.

Integral Sustainability prevails

(from left): Marc Preußner, Managing Director at WISAG Gebäudereinigung; Markus Häfner, Managing Director of Tana-Chemie; Martin Riebschläger, Managing Director of WISAG Facility Service Holding GmbH; and Thomas Ulbricht, Managing Director and Head of the Professional Division at Werner & Mertz.
(from left): Marc Preußner, Managing Director at WISAG Gebäudereinigung; Markus Häfner, Managing Director of Tana-Chemie; Martin Riebschläger, Managing Director of WISAG Facility Service Holding GmbH; and Thomas Ulbricht, Managing Director and Head of the Professional Division at Werner & Mertz.

Werner & Mertz Professional and WISAG kick off extensive cooperative effort

With its portfolio of powerful cleaning products that fulfill the highest environmental standards along the entire supply chain, Werner & Mertz Professional won over WISAG Gebäudereinigung GmbH & Co. KG. Effective immediately, the Professional Division of the Mainz-based cleaning products manufacturer Werner & Mertz is the sole supplier of cleaning chemicals for maintenance and special cleaning provided by the building cleaning company across the country.

Effectiveness, environmental protection and user safety

With a variety of environmentally friendly services, WISAG Gebäudereinigung is a role model for environmental protection in its markets. The cleaning experts always make sure there is a reasonable benefit-cost ratio. For particularly in the professional cleaning sector, not only the products’ ecological aspects, but also cleaning performance and user safety count toward genuine sustainability.

The green care products from Werner & Mertz Professional are developed according to the Cradle to Cradle® principle. From the outset they are designed to be suitable for closed material cycles, that is, their materials can be returned completely and harmlessly to the biosphere or recycled for qualitatively high re-use. Cradle to Cradle® design includes a detailed evaluation key to assess the materials used and their recyclability, use of renewable energy and CO2 management, prudent use of water and social responsibility. In 2013 the brand green care Professional was the world’s first professional cleaning portfolio to receive the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Gold award. This year Werner & Mertz Professional won the highly respected Amsterdam Innovation Award for its product system «Quick & Easy», which combines efficiency, sustainability and ergonomics. Many other packaging awards have been received for the cleaning products bottles made of 100 percent recycled plastic.

«Resource conservation in building cleaning is a given for us. With the sustainable brands from Werner & Mertz Professional, we can give buildings an ecologically sensible cleaning – without compromising on cleanliness and hygiene. That’s why the integrally sustainable approach of Werner & Mertz Professional perfectly matches our corporate vision and our ecological goals,» said Marc Preußner, Managing Director of WISAG Gebäudereinigung.

An important step to greater sustainability

For many years Werner & Mertz Professional has supplied smaller parts of WISAG. Now the company has won the complete contract for maintenance and special cleaning, including products for laundry and kitchens. The products will be used in many different types of buildings, from offies to convention centers. Preparations are being made for the conversion of other WISAG divisions, international subsidiaries and associated companies.

Coming up next is the competent conversion of products at WISAG in a very short amount of time. Even though – or perhaps because – the task is challenging, spirits are high at Werner & Mertz Professional. “We are very proud that we can support WISAG with a broad product palette and thereby work with the company to advance sustainability in professional building cleaning throughout Germany,» said Markus Häfner, Managing Director of Tana.

About WISAG

WISAG Gebäudereinigung is represented by 96 branches located throughout Germany. With about 20,500 employees, the company reported revenue of approximately 404 million EUR in 2019.

WISAG Gebäudereinigung is part of the WISAG Facilities Services buinsess unit whose core business is technical and infrastructural services for buildings. Besides building cleaning, those services include Facilities Management, Building Technology, Safety & Service, Catering, Garden & Landscaping Maintenance and Consulting & Management. The individual service areas are among the most important suppliers in their respective industries. For varied segments, the building experts offer specially customized service packages, for example, for health and social welfare, hotels, logistics, retail services, shopping centers and the housing industry. With more than 19,800 customers and some 32,200 employees, and revenue of 1.168 billion EUR in 2019, the company is one of the leading facility services providers in Germany.

Is this the end of high-quality plastic recycling?

The Green Dot, Werner & Mertz and the German Association for the Waste, Water and Raw Materials Industries demand financial incentives and commitment from government

Plastic waste in private households increased by 10 percent in recent months as the numbersof home offices and Internet orders went up and the demand for recyclates – recycled plasticfrom plastic waste – decreased dramatically. What appears at first glance to be a paradox canbe attributed to one cause – oil prices.

The corona pandemic brought about a sharp fall in the price of oil. Cheap crude oil lowersthe cost of producing new plastic and thus reinforces new plastic’s privileged legal status inGermany as it is exempt from petroleum tax and EEC levies. In comparison, the materialrecycling of used plastic packaging is economically even less attractive. Many manufacturerswhich previously used recyclates for products and packaging are now switching back to newgoods.

That means not only substantial losses for the recycling industry and a giant step backwards forclimate and environmental protection, but also a huge blow to the circular economy!

Consumers long ago recognized the danger. Surveys show that consumers see plastic as thegreatest (environmental) problem (top-of-mind theme 2019 with regard to the environmentand ecology, Source: GfK Unternehmergespräch 2019). They expect solutions in favor of asustainable economy and that has not been changed by the coronavirus (Source: GfK WebinarIM AUGE DES STURMS, 2020).

The solution to the plastic pollution of our environment has been known for some time. Usedplastic from post-consumer waste collections like the Yellow Bag can now be recycled at such ahigh quality that it fulfills strict requirements for use in cosmetic packaging. Plastic remains in aclosed cycle, where it becomes valuable raw material instead of polluting waste. The technologyof material recycling, however, is still pushed aside because the use of new plastic is cheaper incomparison.1

That’s why three representatives along the supply chain have issued a joint statement in whichthey demand that the German government use the impending transformation of the economyto establish a sustainable circular economy in general and the reuse of recyclates from usedplastic in particular.

Peter Kurth, President of BDE (German Association for the Waste, Water and RawMaterials Industries), appeals to the role model function of public procurement for sustainablemanagement: «The decline in oil prices intensified the already difficult circumstances for manyplastic recyclers. Expensively produced recyclates find no takers, investments in better recyclingare put off or cancelled because refinancing appears impossible. Given the lack of politicalaction, plastic recycling is threatened with severe damage. Anyone who wants a successful,sustainable economy has to employ suitable instruments that have been known for a long time.An altered procurement process that takes ecological aspects seriously should be at the top ofthe agenda.»

Reinhard Schneider, owner of the cleaning products company Werner & Mertz andwinner of the German Environmental Award 2019, provides concrete solutions to balanceout the existing financial disadvantage between the use of post-consumer recyclates (PCR)and of new goods in Germany. «The ecological differential in the purchase prices could be2 von 3incorporated in the Packaging Law in Paragraph 21 in the form of a fund to which all producerswould have to contribute. Only those who use recyclates should receive reimbursement.Additionally, a plastic tax could be introduced which would apply only to new goods, somethingItaly plans to do. That corresponds to cutting the subsidies for the manufacture of new goodsin that the exemption from mineral oil tax and EEC levies no longer apply. The debatedminimum utilization rate makes sense only when combined with incentivization for exceedingthe minimum rate.»

Michael Wiener, CEO of The Green Dot, says specifically about minimum utilization rate: «Thepotential of the circular economy for climate protection, especially for plastic, has not yet beenexhausted. We are missing out on the economic opportunities the circular economy offers. Acircular economy that earns the name creates jobs and brings urgently needed added valueinto the European Union. Instead, we are experiencing a complete market failure. Recycledplastic saves up to 50 percent in greenhouse gas emissions generated by new plastic, but thatis not reflected in the price. Politicians have to set defined recyclate utilization goals for certainproduct groups in order to promote the creation of sustainable recyclate markets and providethe necessary investment security. In July 2020 the federal government will take over the EUCouncil Presidency – a good opportunity to advance relevant measures.»

Summary: A stronger focus on sustainability in public procurement, a fund system, a new plastic tax for new goods and a clearly defined minimum rate for the use of recyclates combined with financial incentives are instruments that will save plastic recycling from extermination and, after the corona crisis, will ensure a stable, sustainable circular economy as an important contribution to climate protection.

After the corona crisis will things be as they were before?

Appeal from German Environmental Award winner Reinhard Schneider for a sustainabletransformation instead of retro liberalism in post-corona era:

As justifiable measures were taken to contain the pandemic, many people had to cope withan immediate restriction of their civil liberties. That painful experience led to uncertainty andrevealed the weak reaction of our economic system to such a global challenge. Very longsupply chains were particularly prone to disruption.

An already proven way to shorten those chains and stop the depletion of natural resources isoffered by the circular economy!

Many people are now grappling with the question of whether a rebuilding of the economy canprevent the undesirable developments that led to the chains’ susceptibility in the first place.Numerous trade associations, however, are demanding government support that would entailthe suspension and reduction of environmental standards. They stay true to the motto: We needan unhindered and unrestricted rebuilding of old structures. In my view that is not neoliberalismbut rather retro liberalism.

Interestingly, the latest studies by Europe’s largest market research institute GfK/IRI show that the German consumer – or the German consumer right now during the corona crisis – does not want to abandon the issue of sustainability. It appears that consumers at least have realized that sustainability is not an obstacle to our modern consumption but rather the prerequisite for stability and security after the crisis. Unlike lobbyists for large corporations and some politicians, many consumers recognize that an ecologically-oriented lifestyle has the potential to improve resilience to future crises. The GfK/IRI speaks of a paradigm shift away from the growth imperative to a discovery process in which retailers and manufacturers observe people’s changing needs and derive future challenges from them in the «new normal». (Source: Robert Kecskes, IM AUGE DES STURMS – Corona-Shutdown in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, GfK Webinar on 3 April 2020)

Prior to conona, similar thoughts were expressed at the EU level in discussions about the GreenDeal. The suspension of the Green Deal now called for by several trade associations wouldlead to a further polarization of society and intensify a major problem for which there is novaccination – that is, climate change and the accelerated extinction of species!

Many companies (including Werner & Mertz) have realized that their pursuit of ambitiousenvironmental goals does not weaken the economy but instead helps to promote its stabilizationand growth. In the end the question is which of these recovery paths should be given politicalpriority or, to put it more bluntly: retro liberalism or ecological transformation?

We therefore call for:

  • Climate protection, biodiversity and the circular economy must keep their political priority.
  • The existing laws for environmental protection should not be weakened but strengthened instead.
  • Politicians have to set up the fiscal framework for a bold, futuristic energy policy (CO2pricing).

signed: Reinhard Schneider, German Environmental Award winner and owner of Werner & Mertz

Thomas Ulbricht is new Head of Professional Division at Werner & Mertz

As of 1 April 2020, Thomas Ulbricht is the new head of the Professional Division at Werner & Mertz with headquarters in Mainz. He succeeds Frank Vancraeyveld, who left the company by mutual consent after more than seven years. With Thomas Ulbricht, Werner & Mertz Professional has a manager with extensive experience in the industry. “Thomas Ulbricht brings new momentum and clear focus to the sustainable growth strategy pursued by Werner & Mertz Professional,” says Reinhard Schneider, CEO and owner of Werner & Mertz GmbH. “The time is right for responsible use of our resources, especially in professional cleaning.”

Thomas Ulbricht – Experienced Expert

“I am very pleased to be the new face of the Professional Division at Werner & Mertz and part of a company that is a pioneer in the practical implementation of a forward-looking sustainability strategy,” says Thomas Ulbricht. “This philosophy is our unique selling point, which I intend to communicate to the outside world.”

Before his move to Werner & Mertz, Thomas Ulbricht worked for Buzil-Werk Wagner GmbH & Co. KG in Memmingen, where he was head of Finance & Administration from 2012 to 2016 and Executive Director from 2017, most recently with responsibility for brand sales. Buzil develops and distributes cleaning and care products for professional facility cleaning and industry-specific applications. At the beginning of 2019, Ulbricht was appointed a member of the German and the European Economic Senate.

Thomas Ulbricht is a highly qualified industrial engineer. After his studies at Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences, he relocated to London where he completed a master’s degree before joining the auditing and tax consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Before working at Buzil, he gained experience in various positions, including at KPMG and Infineon Technologies AG. From 2005 to 2012, he worked for energy service provider ista international GmbH in Vienna, where he was responsible for finances in the Southern Europe region.

Interclean 2020: Amsterdam Innovation Award

Werner & Mertz Professional is nominated for the Amsterdam Innovation Award

We are delighted to announce that Werner & Mertz Professional has been nominated for the Amsterdam Innovation Award 2020 in the Category “Equipment, Detergents, Washroom”. The jury acknowledged the submitted cleaning concept designed for circular economy with its innovative centerpiece: the worldwide first 100% recyclable refill pouch. The concept will be presented at this year’s RAI Interclean Amsterdam from May 12th to May 15th.

Reduce + reuse + recycle

he monomaterial pouch was developed by Werner & Mertz and the global packaging company Mondi during a four-year project based on Cradle to Cradle® principles. The design objective was to use «reverse engineering,» starting from the end of the product life cycle, and create packaging fit for every stage of the recycling process. With the involvement of all stakeholders along the entire supply chain, it was possible to design packaging perfectly suited to recycling and the circular economy. The development of the stand-up pouch even influenced the design of sorting facilities. Because the pieces of plastic sheeting smaller than an 8.5 by 11-inch paper could not be handled by sorting and recycling equipment, the material was thermally recycled, i.e., incinerated. «Plastic sheeting makes up about 40 percent of the waste in the Yellow Bag and represents enormous but untapped potential! In the sense of «Design for Recycling» it was important to us to develop a stand-up pouch that was not just theoretically recyclable. It also had to ensure practical implementation of the recycling process,» said Immo Sander, head of packaging development at Werner & Mertz. During the years of development work, designers consulted with manufacturers of sorting systems in order to guarantee separate sorting and recycling. The independent Institut Interseroh certified that the stand-up pouch has «very good recyclability that cannot be optimized any further.»

Pouch design is revolutionizing the recycling industry

he monomaterial pouch was developed by Werner & Mertz and the global packaging company Mondi during a four-year project based on Cradle to Cradle® principles. The design objective was to use «reverse engineering,» starting from the end of the product life cycle, and create packaging fit for every stage of the recycling process. With the involvement of all stakeholders along the entire supply chain, it was possible to design packaging perfectly suited to recycling and the circular economy. The development of the stand-up pouch even influenced the design of sorting facilities. Because the pieces of plastic sheeting smaller than an 8.5 by 11-inch paper could not be handled by sorting and recycling equipment, the material was thermally recycled, i.e., incinerated. «Plastic sheeting makes up about 40 percent of the waste in the Yellow Bag and represents enormous but untapped potential! In the sense of «Design for Recycling» it was important to us to develop a stand-up pouch that was not just theoretically recyclable. It also had to ensure practical implementation of the recycling process,» said Immo Sander, head of packaging development at Werner & Mertz. During the years of development work, designers consulted with manufacturers of sorting systems in order to guarantee separate sorting and recycling. The independent Institut Interseroh certified that the stand-up pouch has «very good recyclability that cannot be optimized any further.»

Allies required for further development

The first monomaterial refill pouches are not only in use for the professional division of Werner & Mertz but also in the consumer division: The Frosch brand products have been on retail shelves since November 2019. Werner & Mertz has no intention of resting on its laurels, but is working on bigger plans. In the future the flexible plastic packaging not only will be completely recyclable but also made of recycled materials. When sufficient amounts of packaging go into recycling systems that comply with Design for Recycling guidelines, this packaging solution can be realized with recyclates and spare the use of new materials. «In this chicken or egg situation, we lay the foundation with our pouch and hope for imitators. After all, as far as climate change is concerned, we have no choice but to increase recycling rates significantly,» said Werner & Mertz owner Reinhard Schneider.