New recycling standard: first spray head for the circular economy

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Incredibly lightweight and completely recyclable with mechanical components of post-consumer recyclate, the new spray head from Werner & Mertz is a recordholder in sustainability. Working with Berry Global, the Mainz manufacturer of laundry detergents and cleaning products has succeeded in making its packaging even more sustainable. Since 2014, the bottles have been made of 100% used plastic and are completely recyclable. Now, with this sustainable spray pump, the cooperation partners again set a recycling standard.

“The goal of our joint project was to implement, consistently and uncompromisingly, all elements of an effective and recyclable spray and foam pump for cleaning products. And that’s exactly what we’ve done!” says Immo Sander, Head of Packaging Development at Werner & Mertz.

Developed according to the 3R circularity strategies:

The new trigger spray head is a recordholder in sustainability because it adheres to all 3R circularity strategies.

Reduce: The weight of the spray head has been reduced to a minimum. It is the lightest spray pump of its kind, with 18 percent less weight than the conventional trigger sprayers on the German market.

Reuse: Once again the spraying performance has been optimized. The spray pump, even more effective than the previous model, provides a minimum of 5,000 pumping actions. That equals more than 11 refills of an original Frosch bottle at home.

Recycle: The spray head is completely recyclable. Its total weight is divided into 97.6 percent polyolefins and just 2.4 percent polyethylene for the valve. Both plastics, categorized in the same polymer group, can be mixed for recycling purposes. Furthermore, the spray head has a high recyclate share (29%) in the functional, internal components of the pump mechanism—a technical innovation developed in record time of two years in the joint project.

“This important joint development of a trigger platform underscores our commitment to creating packaging solutions that maximize the many advantages of plastic while ensuring that the packaging can play a valuable role in the circular economy,” says Vincent Clauzel, EVP Berry CPI. “This is one way we help our customers to achieve and exceed their sustainability goals. We are very proud that we could work so closely with Werner & Mertz to bring this new development to the market.”

Several challenges mastered all at once

During development, both cooperation partners overcame several technical hurdles. For example, PP recyclates have technical properties that differ from vigin plastics specially adapted to an injection molding process. So the challenge was to develop a completely new design that could compensate for the significantly softer recyclates. On top of that, the ideal gliding characteristics of piston and cylinder had to be produced with PP only instead of with the previously used mix of plastics.

Together the two companies managed to create a highly durable spray head that uses as little material as possible with the maximum amount of recyclates. The modular construction of the system with different nozzle options ensures convenient spraying and foaming of the cleaning product.

All cleaning product bottles for the brands Frosch, Green Care Professional and Tana Professional will be equipped successively with the innovative spray head. Consumers and professional cleaners are thus offered a powerful spray head that conserves resources and protects the environment.

Already an award winner

For its new spray head, Werner & Mertz has received the German Packaging Award 2022 in the Sustainability category.

“The circular economy is a challenge when it comes to complex functional parts such as spray heads,” according to the evaluation by the jury of representatives from business, research and academia. “These contain many individual parts that must be precisely coordinated with each other. The complex technical requirements are usually solved using different materials. Werner & Mertz and Berry Global have succeeded through consistent design in developing a spray head that is made of over 97% PP. At the same time, it is 18% lighter on average than the market standard. The functional parts have a post-consumer recycled content of 29%. It is noteworthy that the design compensates for the drawbacks of the PCR material, so that the customer can use it just as easily. The screwable spray head also means that the spray bottle is refillable.”

Thirty-eight innovations from six countries took the top places in the competition organized by the German Packaging Institute (dvi) for the best solutions in packaging. The award recipients at the largest European showcase for packaging achievements were honored in 10 categories.

Copyright: dvi, Hans-Martin Issler

“If you want to see outstandingly creative and intelligent packaging innovations, look no further than the winners of the German Packaging Award. It is extremely remarkable that the companies in our industry have not allowed the adversities caused by COVID-19, the energy crisis and supply chain problems to get in the way of their innovative and creative power,” says Dr Bettina Horenburg, dvi board member.

All the winners of the German Packaging Award are nominated automatically for the WorldStar Award from the World Packaging Organisation (WPO).