Barbara Hendricks, Frosch and Recyclable Materials Legislation
The Werner & Mertz Recyclate Initiative is built on advantageous use of lightweight packaging from the Yellow Bag and its integration in a closed technical cycle. The Yellow Bag holds significant and unrealized potential for the manufacture of secondary raw materials such as rPET. Specifically, of the 1.2 million tons of plastic waste collected every year in the Dual System Deutschland (Yellow Bag), about 10% is discarded PET. From those 120,000 tons, approximately 50,000 tons of former PET packaging are remade into low-quality fleece, for example, or window boxes. The remaining 70,000 tons of PET waste end up as auxiliary fuel in community incinerators, whose operation increases CO2 emissions and results in the irretrievable loss of fossil fuels. It is possible, however, to produce relatively high-quality PET material, also known as rPET, from the collected PET and to recycle the packaging again and again. The Mainz-based manufacturer of FROSCH has shown with the Recyclate Initiative that the traceability of PET packaging in a closed cycle is both technically and practically feasible.
The Recyclate Initiative has once again attracted the attention of people in high places. In a discussion with Federal Environment Minister Dr. Barbara Hendricks, Werner & Mertz CEO Reinhard Schneider lobbied for further political support of the Recyclate Initiative. The occasion was a visit by Dr. Hendricks to the FROSCH corporate headquarters in Rheinallee on Tuesday.
A guided tour through the company gave the minister insight into production processes, conveyed interesting facts about W&M and its employees and showed the wide variety of green products marketed under the brand names FROSCH and GREENCARE PROFESSIONAL. Brief film clips explained the laser sensor technology developed by cooperation partner Unisensor for the fine sorting of PET flakes. The production facilities operated by packaging manufacturer ALPLA on company grounds were also part of the tour. A visit to the Water Center, which provides the entire production department with the carefully processed raw material water, presented Dr. Hendricks with a vivid example of how sustainability is practiced throughout Werner & Mertz. The company's credibility has been validated once again by the consumers' selection of FROSCH as Germany's Most Trusted Brand 2015.
At the company's invitation, the minister visited in advance of action on amendments to the recyclable materials legislation and met with NABU Deutschland, a Recyclate Initiative cooperation partner and consultant to W&M in environmental issues. NABU Rhineland-Palatinate has cooperated with FROSCH for several years on NABU projects, including the "Upper Rhine Lifeline." On the subject of PET packaging waste, NABU takes a firm position with its engagement in the Recyclate Initiative. NABU Deutschland President Olaf Tschimpke told Dr. Hendricks, "The Recyclate Initiative has shown that something other than incineration is technologically possible." He also expressed his opposition to using PET waste as auxiliary fuel. "Waste incinerators do not have to run forever, but can be converted for more flexible operation."
From the CDU and SPD parliamentary groups, the minister presented a position paper (a compromise of coalition rapporteurs) on modern recyclable materials legislation that puts sustainable, community and consumer-friendly product responsibility in the foreground. According to the paper, the "ecological effectiveness of household collection of recyclables" should be "noticeably improved." Furthermore, the actual requirements should be "dynamic" and based on "the state of the best available technology in use." The signatories suggested that licensing fees take into account the recyclability of packaging and products and incentives be set up for product design based on ecological criteria. Mr. Schneider used similar terms in urging politicians to take up the cause of sustainability: "We need an incentive that moves companies with product responsibility to use more recyclates in the manufacture of packaging." Established as an Open innovation project, the Recyclate Initiative also brings competitors onboard. "You have found the right strategy," said Dr. Hendricks, as she thanked Mr. Schneider for the invitation and once again encouraged the Recyclate Initiative participants to continue on their way. Just last November the minister presented the German Federal Ecodesign Award to the Recyclate Initiative.
Other participants in the discussion with Dr. Hendricks and Werner & Mertz included Siegfried Schuch, the regional chairman of NABU Rhineland-Palatinate; Dr. Benjamin Bongardt, team leader for resource policy in NABU national association; and Timothy Glaz, W&M Corporate Affairs manager.
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