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(Photo credit: Werner & Mertz)


Werner & Mertz has received the prestigious WorldStar Packaging Award for the third time

Mainz, Germany

It is the third worldwide innovation from Werner & Mertz to be awarded the WorldStar Packaging Award. This time it's for increasing the Yellow Bag material from 20% to 50% in the eco pioneer's PET bottles made completely of used plastic – a joint achievement with cooperation partner ALPLA.

In 2018 the Mainz-based cleaning products company and ALPLA received the award for HDPE bottles made of 100% recyclate obtained from the Yellow Bag. Two years later the award was conferred for the first high-quality, recyclable stand-up pouch developed with cooperation partner Mondi. To date, Werner & Mertz has proven the feasibility of a truly award-winning implementation for three types of plastic, namely, rHDPE, flexible LDPE sheeting and rPET from the Yellow Bag.

The international jury for the competition sponsored by the World Packaging Organization (WPO) selected the winners from 440 submissions from 37 countries. They included the recycling quantum leap made by Werner & Mertz for which the company received the WorldStar Packaging Award 2022 in the "Packaging Materials and Components" category.

About the award-winning packaging innovations, WPO President Pierre Pienaar said, ". . . sustainability remains a key and necessary consideration when designing packaging." The official awards ceremony will be held during the trade show Ipack Ima in Milan on 4 May 2022.

Demand: Advanced mechanical recycling has to be economically worthwhile!

Back in 2012, in collaboration with cooperation partners along the entire value chain, Werner & Mertz established the Recyclate Initiative as an Open Innovation project. Since then the Initiative has worked to ensure that used plastic from post-consumer collections is reprocessed for high-quality reuse and thus kept in a closed loop. The many international awards show clearly that the announced intentions are followed by concrete actions. In particular, the technological development of material from the Yellow Bag for high-quality packaging is a pioneering achievement. Werner & Mertz is at the forefront, but does not want to be alone. For the good of the environment, the company would welcome other participants to the Initiative.

"It's a poor excuse to say that high-quality recyclate is not available. There is still too little demand from the industry for high-quality recyclate from the Yellow Bag. Instead, that material is wasted in large part or incinerated. There's a lot more potential to be tapped," says Werner & Mertz owner Reinhard Schneider.

The Werner & Mertz approach offers two ecological advantages at once. One is that the used plastic is put into a cycle. Another is that the company relies on mechanical recycling, which is considerably more energy-efficient than "chemical recycling", a process the plastic lobby has been pushing as a presumed alternative. However, many companies are still scared away by the currently high cost of recyclate from the Yellow Bag as compared to virgin plastic. Therefore, Werner & Mertz is pleased that the new federal government in its coalition agreement allots the EU plastic tax on unrecycled plastic packaging waste to the distributors of virgin plastic, whose use will no longer receive favorable treatment. Additionally, the company is hoping that the fund model mentioned in the coalition agreement will boost demand for recyclate.

"Recyclable packaging alone does not guarantee a closed-loop system. We close the loop only when the theoretically high-quality material is used as recyclate and put back into packaging. So we fervently hope that the new federal government will drive this ecological innovation, as was the case with electric mobility," says Schneider.

Werner & Mertz is developing other potential award-winning innovations

Having received the WorldStar Packaging Award for three recycling innovations, Werner & Mertz is now turning its attention to the ongoing conversion of closures or caps made of PP. In this case too the company has taken on a pioneering role. Starting this year, it is giving up the identifying feature, i.e., the iconic green cap of its Frosch brand, and is using instead a colorless, transparent cap in the interest of optimized recyclability. The next step calls for the different closures—for all-purpose cleaners (hinged cap), dishwashing liquids (push-pull closure) and glass cleaners (trigger closure)—to be made from recyclate. That would be another worldwide innovation, so Werner & Mertz is leaving a bit of space free next to the three WorldStar Packaging Awards.


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