Sustainability Focus: Cradle-to-Cradle®Werner&Mertz
Werner & Mertz independently developed a raw material and formula assessment system. We are now taking the next step and examining the system against objective criteria. The yardstick is the Cradle to Cradle® design concept developed by the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA), an international research and environmental consulting institution based in Hamburg.The perspective espoused in Cradle to Cradle® is in direct contrast, according to the EPEA, to the linear production principle known as “Cradle to Grave,” in which material flows are formed without conscious consideration of natural resource protection.
Cradle to Cradle® is based instead on product design for a biological or technical cycle. The challenge is in planning the product’s progress through the entire material cycle. Product materials should be suitable for a safe and complete return to the biosphere or for recovery and good quality reuse. Fundamental to the design process is the development of a com- prehensive quality connotation through the positive definition of ingredients.Future products should be designed to be useful for the material cycle. For one thing, they ought to improve the quality of recycling fractions obtained so that recycling is possible at the same or higher level.
Ingredients, including pigments and additives, should be selected to preclude toxic effects during use or in other phases such as manufacture, recycling and reuse. Crude oil, for instance, used one time to make plastic, remains in the cycle and is not irretrievably burned. The energy for recycling, as for other production processes, should be drawn if possible from renewable sources in an environmentally and climate-friendly fashion. A good example of this is the production of a new PET bottle from an old PET bottle.
The Cradle to Cradle® design by EPEA includes its own detailed valuation key. Elements factored into the key include the materials used, their suitability for the material cycle, the use of energy and water and the social impact of product cycles and manufacturing methods. By drawing parallels to our in-house raw material and formula assessment, we gain insight into potential improvements to our system.
“I am convinced that sustainability is the right way to a viable future. That’s why I work to make our raw materials portfolio even more environmentally friendly.”
Raw Materials Coordination, Product Development
“The ecologically sustainable develop- ment of a cleanser does not end with the elimination of critical ingredients. It also demands perfect integration of its entire life cycle in the evolutionary material cycles of nature.”
Dr. Andreas Brakemeier
Head of Professional Products Development
Werner & Mertz is increasingly moving toward this cyclical process as the ideal for sustainable production and business practices. The Recyclate Initiative is one example of the company’s orientation. Two others are the entire power supply for the Hallein site from regenerative energy sources and the new headquarters in Mainz as a plus-energy building. Guided by Cradle to Cradle®, we are taking this approach for the sustainable optimization of raw materials, formulas and packaging materials.
• Evaluation Werner & Mertz Assessment Systems
• Innovation Project Cradle to Cradle® Design
EPEA GmbH – Part of Drees & Sommer in cooperation with EPEA Switzerland GmbH
“The three Werner & Mertz assessment systems stand out for their ease of application and high efficiency.”
EPEA GmbH – Part of Drees & Sommer: Evaluation Werner & Mertz Assessment Systems, Cradle to Cradle® Design Innovation Project, Hamburg/Mainz 2012