Follow the Frog
Managing Partner Reinhard Schneider and Corporate Affairs Manager Timothy Glaz of the German-based company Werner & Mertz visited the Institute this week and left us wowed by their commitment to innovation throughout their company, from their operations to their products to their packaging.
As leader of the world’s most stringent and esteemed certification program, I’m often invited to peek inside a company’s workings; this was a wonderful reminder — five years since our work here at the Institute began — how much excellence continues to excite me.
Werner & Mertz have Cradle to Cradle Certified products at the highest level — both their Frosch-branded home cleaning products and professional cleaning product line have attained Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold. More importantly, the pursuit of Certification has transformed their company, and they are absolutely committed to continuous improvement of their more than 3,000 products — not only of their ingredients, but also of their packaging.
Product packaging performs a near-miraculous job protecting food, beverages, medicines, and a wide world of other valuable products — everything from tooth brushes to luxury yachts — as they are transported across the globe. Yet further innovation in packaging is desperately needed. Too much of today’s packaging is lost to landfills, incinerators, highways, byways, and the world’s rivers, lakes, and oceans at the end of use. Many of these materials will endure for millennia, and much of it contains chemicals that pose significant health risks to humans and wildlife.
Under our current certification standard, the container of a Certified product must not contain any banned-list ingredients, but it doesn’t require further certification itself. Pursuing certification of the container is going above and beyond. Werner & Mertz are working towards a world where everything keeps circulating. They are now taking the “unrecyclables” that are collected in Germany in the “yellow bag program". As part of their Recyclate Initiative they are making their own bottles using at least 20 percent of the hardest-to-recycle materials as well as recycled PET from cleaner streams. It’s an impressive innovation, to say the least, and provides further proof for all of us of the power of intentionality to overcome technological barriers.
The Werner & Mertz team is exhibiting visionary leadership, and we’re proud to count their membership in the growing community of Cradle to Cradle Certified companies who have committed to push past the common definition of sustainability.