Cradle to Cradle Certified® Gold for Recyclable Stand-up Pouch!

17 Aug 2021 - Mainz - Company-News

Werner & Mertz and Mondi cooperate in global pioneering project to achieve a true circular economy

It is the crowning achievement to a five-year-plus pioneering project. The stand-up pouch, developed by the cleaning products manufacturer Werner & Mertz in cooperation with the global packaging and paper company Mondi is the first flexible packaging in the world to achieve Gold in all categories of the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Scorecard.

To integrate the product seamlessly in the recycling process and the circular economy, both companies involved all the stakeholders along the value chain from the start and sought advice from EPEA Switzerland. The organization, which is an accredited assessment body for Cradle to Cradle Certified®, developed an 18-point Cradle to Cradle™ Projects Reference Model for the fulfillment of the Cradle-to-Cradle® Principle, which the two companies followed step by step.

"No company can single-handedly develop a product for the circular economy. It takes an interdisciplinary network of experts. Thanks to the entire team's strict adherence to the Cradle-to-Cradle® Principle, Werner & Mertz and Mondi have achieved success with the stand-up pouch in a real 'lighthouse' project!" said Albin Kaelin, Chief Executive Officer of EPEA Switzerland.

The stand-up pouch achieved Gold in all categories. All the materials used can be returned safely to the environment or put to high-quality use again. Photo Copyright: Werner & Mertz

Developed according to the Cradle to Cradle® Projects Reference Model

In the beginning, the Purpose of the Product had to be defined clearly. In the case of the pouch, the idea was to create high-quality, truly recyclable plastic packaging. The task seemed impossible at the time. After all, conventional pouches consisted of multiple layers of plastic and materials that could not be recycled and so were thermally recycled, that is, incinerated.

"Fifty-one percent of all packaging that lands in the Yellow Bag is plastic packaging. It holds enormous potential for recycling that has remained mostly untapped so far. We want to change that!" said Immo Sander, Head of Packaging Development at Werner & Mertz.

It quickly became clear that the pouch had to be made of a single material. Reducing the material to a single type of plastic, namely, polyethylene, was just one issue. Consideration had to be given to the collection and sorting process of the materials too (Definition Areas of Innovation). High-quality recycling is feasible only if the used packaging actually lands in the Yellow Bag and the sorting system recognizes it.

In the ensuing years, the manufacturers of sorting systems and units were regularly consulted about the development of separate sorting and reprocessing facilities. At the same time Werner & Mertz used its Frosch Initiative to inform consumers of waste separation and recycling and make them aware of the Yellow Bag's importance in the recycling process (Development Marketing Statement).

Production and the supply chain also were involved (Definition Closing the Loop Scenarios). The developers realized early on in the process that both Mondi and Werner & Mertz would need to acquire new machines or refit old ones for the new pouch. Financial resources and time were demanded.

"Jointly with Werner & Mertz, we analyzed the entire process depth of today's StripPouch, from production to the sorting and recycling process in order to develop a 'Design 4 Recycling‘. Our incentive was optimum use of the circular economy. We are very proud of the external recognition with the Cradle to Cradle Certified Scorecard Gold," said Jens Koesters, Manager R&D/Technical Service, Mondi Consumer Flexibles.

Still another criterion is the ABC-X Categorisation of the Ingredients. Every little detail matters here. For this point alone, for example, a completely new recyclable printing ink system for flexographic printing was developed, which has since received the Material Health Certificate in Gold. This certification confirms the safety of the solvent-based ink for biological cycles.

Criteria specification was followed by Product Design and Implementation of previously chosen processes, including Investments. The Cradle-to-Cradle® Process is not completed with the successful retail launch of the product. After-Sales Service has to be provided so that consumers have a chance to ask questions about the product. At Werner & Mertz that's guaranteed by the consumer advice team.

The development of the pouch shows that sustainable products cannot be rushed. They need time, investment, innovation and close cooperation among all partners along the entire value chain if they are to be truly recyclable in the end.

More information about the stand-up pouch from Werner & Mertz:

You'll find the 18-point Cradle to Cradle® Projects Reference Model here .

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Press contact:
Werner & Mertz GmbH
Corporate Communication
Birgitta Schenz
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55120 Mainz
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