Spinning straw into gold
Werner & Mertz is counting on a new type of organic ethanol and cooperating with the specialty chemicals firm Clariant.
After making surfactants from rapeseed, olive and flax oils, Werner & Mertz of Mainz, the manufacturer of detergents, cleaners and maintenance products, has discovered for itself a new plant-based raw material from domestic cultivation. It is sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol, an organic alcohol of the second generation, made from straw, an agricultural residue. The specialty chemicals producer Clariant has developed an innovative process in which pure organic ethanol is obtained, which is used in Frosch Bio-Spiritus Multiflächen-Reiniger (organic alcohol multi-surface cleaner) for end-consumers.
In a gentle process, the highly inaccessible sugar is obtained from straw, i.e., the inedible portions of plants, and then fermented to yield high-quality organic ethanol.
"Our corporate work is strictly oriented toward sustainability," said Werner & Mertz CEO Reinhard Schneider in remarks about his company's exclusive cooperation with Clariant. The new organic ethanol integrates seamlessly in the Cradle-to-Cradle® philosophy, which the company has committed to following. "We proverbially turn straw into gold when we use the riches of Nature and extract the best for mankind and the environment from waste material by doing the right things right," Schneider added as he explained the cycle principle behind eco-effectiveness. Werner & Mertz has already taken on a pioneering role with its Recyclate Initiative for packaging and the Frosch Initiative for active substances obtained from domestically cultivated plants and continues to score achievements in this area.
The use of the plant residue straw brings several additional advantages. "We use regional resources and reduce the consumption of crude oil," Schneider notes. The cultivated areas are mostly in Germany, production takes place in Straubing and bottle-filling in Mainz. Transportation routes are shortened and energy expenditures are kept low. Straw is obtained from native agricultural waste material such as wheat straw without competing with foodstuff or fodder production. "There is no need to create new cultivated areas or to convert arable land with high biodiversity," said Professor Andre Koltermann, Head of Group Biotechnology at sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol manufacturer Clariant. Furthermore, organic ethanol is practically CO2-neutral with "greenhouse gas emissions reduced by ninety-five percent compared to fossil fuels." Frosch Bio-Spiritus Multiflächenreiniger (Frosch organic alcohol multi-surface cleaner) offers the ideal balance of gentle cleaning and no-streak cleanliness for all smooth surfaces. Alcohol is valued in cleaning for its grease and dirt-dissolving characteristics; organic alcohol joins these original characteristics with sustainable use for the environment, mankind and Nature. Sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol will first be used exclusively in Frosch Bio-Spiritus Multiflächen-Reiniger Orange, which gently cleans sensitive surfaces such as flat-screen monitors, frees all smooth surfaces from dirt and fingerprints, and leaves behind a fruity, fresh orange scent. The bottle is made of 99.6% used plastic, which is known as "recyclates". The new cleaner will be available in German retail stores in February.
FROSCH Products and Market Share
According to the marketing research firm Nielsen, organic products in German food retailing (LEH) brought in 2.77 billion EUR from January to September 2015, which represents 4.2% of the total LEH market. Market researcher GfK reports that Werner & Mertz has succeeded in clarifying its sustainable activities and raising consumer awareness of sustainable products in everyday life, including in the market for detergents, cleaners and maintenance products. Frosch has managed to stay on top. According to the marketing research firm IRI, the brand's market share of household cleaners is currently at 12.5% (as of November 2015), which makes Frosch the market leader in this category. In other product groups the Frosch brand is clearly growing.
You will find details about the Frosch Initiative "Active Substances from Native Cultivation" at www.initiative-frosch.de .
Photos: Werner & Mertz
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