4. Depth of the Value Chain

The company states what significance aspects of sustainability have for added value and how deep in the value chain the sustainability criteria are verified.

Sustainability is firmly embedded in our business activities, which extend throughout  the entire value chain. We work in close cooperation with our suppliers, customers and business partners.  

The different levels of the value chain for the Werner & Mertz  Group are:  

Because the Werner & Mertz Group produces only in Germany and Austria, there are no far-reaching risks along the value chain. The two ecological challenges within our value chain that we consider relevant for sustainability are the recycling of plastic packaging for our products and the production of sustainable surfactants. We will meet both challenges with innovative developments.     

Ecological sustainability aspects of product packaging
Conventional plastic carelessly discarded as waste and bioplastic cause serious environmental problems. The "bio" in bioplastic can have two different meanings: biologically cultivated (bio-based) or biologically degradable. Neither  variant is sustainable, given the many problems, such as monocultures, difficulties with biodegradability and residual microplastic.    

Werner & Mertz has decided in favor of using material recycling. Instead of following the bioplastic trend, we, as an eco pioneer, long ago set our stake on high-quality recycling in a closed material loop. When plastic is always kept in a closed loop and reused over and over, no new plastic has to be produced with petroleum. That minimizes the CO2 footprint of every single plastic product and keeps plastic far away from the environment. Thanks to ultramodern sorting and processing methods, the transparent PET bottles for our Frosch brand have been made for years of 20 percent recycled material obtained from the Yellow Bag. Even the caps for bottles of Frosch cleaners, which are made of 100 percent recycled PP, come from the Yellow Bag. The bottles for emsal floor care, green care Professional cleaners and Frosch shower gels are made completely from recycled HDPE waste from the Yellow Bag.  

The environment benefits in two ways from the loss-free recycling of plastic, which, like glass or paper, is put into a closed material recycling loop. For one thing, recycling prevents the pollution of land and sea and, for another, it conserves natural resources by eliminating the need to produce new plastic from crude oil.     

Ecological sustainability aspects of product ingredients
Surfactants in cleaning products and detergents are wash-active substances that dissolve dirt and grease in water. Many variations are available. Surfactants can be obtained sustainably from renewable plants or produced from crude oil or animal components, including slaughtering waste (mostly for fabric softeners). Even in the sustainable manufacturing of surfactants there is an important difference. Surfactants produced from palm kernel oil destroys biodiversity in the rainforest and the rainforest itself, the green lungs of the Earth. Werner & Mertz is convinced that surfactants based on plants cultivated in Europe contribute to climate protection.     

Therefore, Werner & Mertz will intensify research on surfactants in the future with the goal of using the wash-active substances made from European oil-producing plants, namely, rapeseed, olives, flaxseed and sunflowers. Rapeseed and sunflower oils come from Germany, Poland and France. Linseed oil comes from flax cultivation in France and Belgium and olive oil from Southern Europe – Spain, Italy and Greece. None of the oils used compete with foodstuff production. For the time in which coconut and palm kernel oils are used in our formulas, we support the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the sustainable cultivation of palm trees. We cover 100 percent of the raw materials we use with RSPO Book & Claim Credits.

Surfactants from plants cultivated in Europe have the following benefits:  

The green frog products are certified with the European environmental seal "EU Ecolabel". At this time, the highest eco certification is "Cradle-to-Cradle" GOLD: the effect of all ingredients of a detergent and cleaning product on human life is determined at exactly 0.01 percent. That exceeds the European detergent regulation by a significant margin. The gold status was first given to Werner & Mertz for Frosch brand products in 2013. Since then many of our professional products also have received this certification.   
In order to guarantee the highest social and environmental standards along the entire supply chain, we have a Supplier Code of Conduct, whose contents are described in the section on Criterion 14. Furthermore, our factory is equipped with a digital lot traceability system. Raw materials, semi-finished products and primary packaging are registered digitally, so everything in the entire value chain can be traced. We regularly exchange information with our suppliers and coordinate our use of new technologies, standards and other innovations in order to fulfill the stringent requirements of a sustainable supply chain. One example is the development of new sustainable raw material and packaging like the high-quality, recyclable stand-up refill pouch, which was a joint project with the company Mondi.