Biodiversity at the front door
The builder bee, a species of wild bee also known as osmia cornuta, has found a new home among the coronilla, white clover and goldmoss stonecrop growing next to the employee parking lot. The black redstart too has been spotted where the brown knapweed and other wildflowers provide eye-catching colors instead of monotonous green tracts. The grounds of Werner & Mertz have been developed into a natural habitat for native flora and fauna that are endangered by damage to their natural environment.
"The subject of biodiversity is an important component in our ecological pillar, as are resource conservation and climate protection," said Birgitta Schenz, Head of Corporate Communication, in explaining the company's goals. "Sustainable values have a long history at Werner & Mertz." Every year since 2003 the production site has been validated by EMAS, the world's most demanding environmental management system. A regularly published sustainability report and an in-house office for sustainability management further help to satisfy the EMAS criteria.
Werner & Mertz carefully selects raw materials, as evidenced by the Recyclate Initiative in which the company and its partners reduce their reliance on petroleum-derived PET and instead recycle PET waste from the Yellow Bag into reusable PET material. In the long term this conversion should lead to the production of packaging in a closed cycle and result in a significant decrease in damaging CO2 emissions. "Doing the right things right" is a principle that management and employees live day in, day out.
For the rigorous implementation of its corporate philosophy, Werner & Mertz has won several prizes, including the German Sustainability Award for its Frosch family brand (2009), the Rhineland-Palatinate Environmental Award (2010) and the highly regarded certification LEED Platinum (2012) for the construction of its sustainable headquarters. It is the first office building in Germany that generates more energy – with wind power and photovoltaic cells combined with a geothermal system – than it needs for heating and cooling.
The cooperative efforts with NABU Rhineland-Palatinate fit perfectly into the corporate philosophy. "We are delighted that we could create a new habitat with NABU," said Ms. Schenz. With NABU's support in the "Upper Rhine Lifeline" project, Werner & Mertz would like to make its own site even more attractive for plants and animals. The geographer Robert Egeling of NABU, manager of the project, is pleased with the growth of the meadow flowers and the viper's bugloss, which frames the Werner & Mertz employees' parking lot in bright blue. Three insect hotels and picturesque meadows of flowers have arisen in the middle of an industrial landscape. But there's more to the project than the natural design of the site. Small, charming signs featuring the "Frosch" tell visitors and employees about the native variety of species and activity stations invite everyone to dive into one subject or another. Together they sum up the objectives and underscore the significance of the project for the environment. Right on time for World Environment Day, the signs were unveiled during an inspection of the grounds.
"Now that the grassy areas on the site are mowed less frequently, a variety of flowering plants have been able to develop," said Michael Markowski of NABU, a biologist and supervisor of the project "Upper Rhine Lifeline". "The table is well laid for the wild bees," he added. It is important to Günther Heinrichs, Head of Technology at Werner & Mertz, that not only the employees but visitors too understand what's going on at the site. The linear green strips along the Rheinallee remain unchanged while "controlled wild growth" spreads across several surfaces on the 100,000 square-meter company grounds – a perfect example of modern environmental protection. This particular type of landscaping does not extend to the areas in which strict hygiene regulations have to be observed, such as those in close proximity to production, explained Dr. Detlef Matz, Head of Sustainability Management. He is on the board of 'Biodiversity in Good Company', an initiative by companies from several different industries that have joined forces to protect and maintain worldwide biodiversity. "That's why it is a special concern of mine that our premises become more natural." Biologist Uwe Eggert, a member of Sustainability Management at Werner & Mertz, added, "Perhaps our engagement will be inspiration for others to get more involved in biodiversity in their own backyards."
The Werner & Mertz commitment to the environment can be felt way beyond the headquarters' property lines. The company's unflagging engagement and the sincerity behind the sustainability concept are proven by the joint initiative with NABU "Frosch protects frogs", protection of alluvial forests at the Harter Aue, bog conservation at Mürmes in the Eifel, and by equally valuable initiatives in Austria, Poland, France and Indonesia.
Werner & Mertz GmbH
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