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It’s not easy being green (but they do it anyway)
The Werner & Mertz stand was hard to miss as it was so big and so green and so full of frogs (or Frosch, as the Germans put it). Alena Hill told us that the company is not only innovative in its products, but also when it comes to its packaging materials.
“The greening of detergents, polishes and cleaning agents not only refers to the formulations, but also the packaging concepts,” she said. “And while the packaging used for all our products is 100% recyclable, we have gone a step further and used in our PET bottles, a recycled-content of about 65% - which itself comes from old plastic bottles.”
Earlier this year, the company achieved a first, producing a cleaning chemical (the Frosch Citrus Shower & Bath Cleaner) that has been given the Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold award.
The Cradle to Cradle approach stands in contrast to the well-known linear production principle of Cradle to Grave. In the latter system, materials often flow without conscious consideration given to the long-term protection of natural resources from their sources to their disposal.
Cradle to Cradle is based instead on the design of products for biological or technical cycles. The challenge is in planning the product’s progress through a closed material cycle, which means that product materials should be suitable for a safe and complete return to the biosphere or for recovery and good quality reuse.
Future products should be designed in such a way that the quality of recycling fractions is improved and recycling is done at the same or higher level.
Ingredients, including pigments and additives, should be selected to preclude toxic effects during use or in other phases such as manufacture, recycling and reuse. In keeping with the Cradle to Cradle principle, crude oil, for instance, used one time to make plastic, remains in the cycle and is not irretrievably burned. The energy for recycling, as for other production processes, should be drawn if possible from renewable sources in an environmentally and climate-friendly fashion. A good example of this is the production of a new PET bottle from an old PET bottle.
The Cradle to Cradle principle was invented by Prof. Dr Michael Braungart and further developed by the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA), an international research and environmental consulting institution based in Hamburg. It encompasses a detailed evaluation key to assess the materials used, their recyclability, use of energy and water and the social impact of product cycles and methods of production. The selected Frosch brand cleaner was thoroughly analysed for certification.
“Our Frosch brand, the eco-pioneer for more than 25 years, is once again recognised as a leader in sustainability,” said Reinhard Schneider, CEO of the family-operated business. “We are very proud of this outstanding result from the demanding Cradle to Cradle Certified programme. The award is an independent institution’s validation of our own exacting demands and quality standards.”
“Nowadays it is technically possible to develop highly effective products – in our case that means strong cleaning products – that also meet the highest environmental standards along the entire value chain,” said the Werner & Mertz CEO. “Decades of experience as a sustainability pioneer have brought us to this point. To be recognized as the first European business to achieve Cradle to Cradle CertifiedGold with a cleaning product is the most convincing proof of our success.”
3rd October 2013