Werner & Mertz Professional is nominated for the Amsterdam Innovation Award

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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

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The cleaning concept of the brand green care PROFESSIONAL is designed to fit circular economy. The core is a patented 100% recyclable stand-up pouch of monomaterial (polyethylene). It is the first packaging that complies with the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. The pouch, as well as its removable sleeve, can be recycled completely so the plastic remains in the closed material loop (recycle). Since the pouch doesn’t contain any adhesives or additives it can completely flow back into new applications and therefore avoids downcycling. Compared to the original bottle, the pouch saves up to 80% on packaging material and consequently plastic waste (reduce). Thanks to refilling, the 100% rHDPE bottles can be used repeatedly (reuse). The flexible stand-up pouch is very user-friendly with a no spill out spout and a convenient handle. It is light and enables a safe and easy refilling. After usage the empty pouch can be easily disposed into the household waste collection. The pouch comes together with two green care PROFESSIONAL bestsellers in building care: SANET zitrotan and TANET SR15. The two CLP free formulations are 100% biodegradable and hold the EU Ecolabel, as well as the Cradle to Cradle® gold certificate. The portfolio will be extended soon. The concept solves one of the biggest problems of our time which affects the entire worldwide economy: plastic waste. The pouch has a tremendous influence on the entire industry beyond the cleaning sector due to its wide application fields. All materials used in the concept are designed to fit circular economy. According to our credo “Doing the right things right” the whole concept, the pouch and the eco formulations represent the perfect symbiosis of eco-efficiency and eco-effectiveness.

Pouch design is revolutionizing the recycling industry

The 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.