10th April 2024

Werner & Mertz and ALPLA create recycling innovations

Werner & Mertz is consistently committed to sustainability. As a long-standing packaging partner, ALPLA has been contributing recyclable bottles, which have been made from 100 per cent post-consumer recyclate since 2014. In 2023, two innovations were achieved: rPET bottles with 75 percent material content from the Yellow Bag and the recycling of coloured rHDPE in red bottles for pipe cleaning agent.


ALPLA CEO Philipp Lehner and Reinhard Schneider, Owner of Werner & Mertz. (Image: Werner & Mertz)

Werner & Mertz has been committed to climate and environmental protection for many years. The Mainz-based cleaning products manufacturer has thus become a global pioneer in sustainability. Because packaging is just as important as nature-based, environmentally friendly products and their production, the company is working closely with ALPLA as part of the Recyclate Initiative, which was launched in 2012. From the very beginning, the focus was on transparent PET bottles. Together, the family-owned companies are processing more and more used plastic from household collections, such as the Yellow Bag, and are thus getting closer and closer to realizing the vision of the regional plastics circular economy. Since 2016, the HDPE bottles of the emsal and Green Care Professional brands have been made of 100 percent PCR from the Yellow Bag source. 

In 2023, two more milestones were achieved:

  • Thanks to improved sorting and recycling processes, three-quarters of the raw material for the PET bottles of the Frosch brand now consists of material obtained from the yellow bag, i.e. from former waste. The remaining 25 percent comes from the European beverage bottle collection (deposit return system, bottle-to-bottle).
  • Since autumn 2023, red rHDPE, obtained from the Yellow Bag, has been used for the first time in the Rorax brand pipe cleaner - accounting for 50 percent of the total. Around 230,000 bottles are already in circulation.

First red post-consumer recycled material

ALPLArecycling, ALPLA's recycling brand, sorts used HDPE in its state-of-the-art recycling facilities according to the "monocolours" of natural, white, yellow, blue, green and red. The separation into individual colour streams via an additional fine sorting step enables the recycling of coloured plastic – for example red. "Usually, white and transparent flakes are sorted out and the colourful residue is processed into a grey material. This, in turn, is often only suitable for inferior applications. With our cooperation, we are giving value to the variety of colours in the yellow bag and protecting it from downcycling," reports Michael Heyde, Head of Technology at ALPLArecycling. "With the red material, we obtain another color from the recyclable material stream and keep it in the high-quality cycle. Together with ALPLA, we are successfully driving forward the technological processing of used plastic from the Yellow Bag," says Alexander Schau, Head of Packaging Development at Werner & Mertz.


Since September 2023 the bottles of rorax pipe unblocker power-granulate have been made of 50 percent red Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR). (Image: Werner & Mertz)

Circular Economy Partnership

By the end of 2025, all packaging in Werner & Mertz's product range is to be fully recyclable and made of 100 percent PCR material. ALPLA plays an important role as an in-house partner and material supplier. "As an owner-managed family business, what we have in common is that we can focus on long-term initiatives, regardless of shareholder value and quarterly reports, and thus promote a holistic, sustainable circular economy," emphasizes Reinhard Schneider, Owner and Managing Director of Werner & Mertz and winner of the German Environmental Award. 

Since 2019, ALPLA has been producing climate- and environmentally-friendly PET packaging right next to the filling process – without additional transport routes and secondary packaging. This is ensured by 77 conveyor belts on five lines. The in-house plant in Mainz is only an hour's drive away from the PET preform production facility in Kaiserslautern. The recycled material is provided by ALPLArecycling from the plant in Bitterfeld-Wolfen. With state-of-the-art sorting systems and digital support, the mechanical recycling process is taken to a new level.

"This is a true pioneering partnership with benefits for both sides. Without Werner & Mertz, we wouldn't be where we are today. They want to get the most out of it and stay true to their line, despite marketing fads and the higher prices for recycled material. The clear commitment to sustainability gives us peace of mind. In this way, we can work together to push the boundaries of what is technologically feasible step by step," says Mario Peterlin, Sales Manager for Western Europe and Key Account Manager for Werner & Mertz at ALPLA. 

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