aquaculture: term used for the controlled raising of fish, mussels, shrimp, algae, etc., in ponds on land or in fenced areas in the ocean (marine aquaculture). Both the number of aquaculture operations and the area involved are growing steadily. The importance of aquaculture or aqua farms is increasing as a result of overfishing in the oceans. The marine production facilities, however, cause environmental problems related to over-fertilization, lost nets and packaging materials.

biologically degradable or biodegradable: A substance is said to be biologically degradable when 90 percent of it breaks down into water, >> CO2, other gases and biomass within a defined time under conditions related to temperature, oxygen levels and moisture. Bacteria and/or fungi contribute enzymes that promote decomposition. In general use, biodegradability is often equated with compostability, but should not be confused with composting in one’s own garden. The methods and conditions for degradability are specified in the European standards EN 13432 / EN 14995. Many different certification standards are valid in other parts of the world.

bionic ingredients: “bionic” is a descriptive term for the transfer of properties from Nature to technical products or processes. A bionic effect can be achieved by imitation (hook-and-loop closures) or through the use of biological input. An example of the latter is chitosan, which exhibits its water-resistant effect in Werner & Mertz floor care and textile waterproofing products.

carbon dioxide (CO2): is a natural component of the mantle of air that surrounds the Earth. The gas arises primarily from the respiratory processes of animal life and from the burning of coal, oil and gas (fossil fuels or raw materials). As a result of the increased use of those raw materials over the past 170 years, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen from about 280 parts per million (ppm) to approximately 400 ppm. Environmental scientists consider such use  to be a major cause of global warming.

circular economy: Unlike in the linear economy, raw materials used in the circular economy go beyond the life cycle of a product into a new production process. Used products are not waste, but rather reused  >> secondary raw materials (recycling).

consumer goods: goods for private consumption (food, medications, clothing, personal hygiene articles, cleaning products, etc.) or durable goods (consumer electronics, private automobiles, etc.). Consumer goods are intended for quick and sometimes one-time usage; durable goods are subject to wear-and-tear as a result of repeated use.

Cradle to Cradle®: The closed-loop principle known as “Cradle to Cradle®” was conceived of as a fundamental production philosophy by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart and further developed by the EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency). It is based on rigorous design of products (>> product design) for incorporation in a biological or technical closed cycle (>> circular economy).

Design for Recycling: Packaging that is environmentally friendly is made from raw and other materials which are selected for the ease with which they can be sorted and recycled. Design for Recycling guildelines encourage designers and converters to consider the requirements of material recycling when choosing materials, dyes, additives, caps and labels in order to ensure maximum recycling success. The recyclability of materials used and recycling-compatible construction are taken into account in the manufacture of packaging.

design/product design: generally understood to be the design of products with respect to functionality, ergonomics, safety, user friendliness and the like. These criteria influence the choice of materials, the use of additives, production processes and connections among varied components. Material and manufacturing properties in turn determine whether or not a product can be broken down in its entirety or into its components.  They also affect the time, technology and energy expenditures required for reuse (>> recycling).

downcycling: term used for reduced quality of  >> secondary raw materials in >> recycling. In this case the mix of  >> plastics from post-consumer waste collection is often reused in low-quality plastic products (e.g., building material) which cannot be put to good use again later on. The opposite is >> upcycling with material recycling of waste.

Ellen MacAthur Foundation: The British Ellen MacArthur Foundation, established in 2010, works with companies, governments and academic institutions on the framework for a circular economy.  Within the foundation Werner & Mertz is engaged with its Recyclate Initiative as an example of a medium-sized enterprise that develops and implements cross-industry solutions.

fossil raw materials: mineral and fossil raw materials such as metal ores, petroleum, natural gas and coal formed in geological periods. During the era of human existence, those raw materials do not form (or form much too slowly) after use and are therefore finite.  This distinguishes fossil from >> renewable raw materials. Whenever possible, Werner & Mertz forgoes the use of fossil raw materials.

marine: of or relating to the sea; existing in or produced by the sea (example: marine litter)

microplastic: a special kind of plastic litter in the world’s oceans. In international marine protection, microplastic is defined as plastic particles that are five millimeters and smaller. A distinction is made between primary microplastic, which is manufactured in microscopic sizes, and secondary microplastic. The latter develops when large plastic pieces are broken into tiny pieces by solar >> ultraviolet radiation, the pounding of the waves and other effects.

offshore facilities: Facilities and structures that lie offshore, that is, in the open ocean. Very often wind power facilities are meant, but the term also covers oil-drilling rigs, platforms, research equipment, etc., which  lie outside the 12-mile zone, i.e., outside a country’s territorial waters.

plankton: Name for organisms which live in fresh or salt water; they are moved by currents.  The two types are zooplankton and phytoplankton, organisms of animal or plant origin, respectively.  Both are the basis of food chains in the ocean and fresh water ecosystems. Because >> microplastic is similar in shape, color, smell and movement to plankton, fish and shellfish which feed on plankton can mistake microplastic for food.

plastic(s): man-made materials with properties and chemical composition unknown in Nature. The major raw materials for most conventional plastics are petroleum and natural gas. The adjective “plastic” is derived from the Latin plasticus, which means “soft” and “pliable”.

Polyethylene (PE) and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE): is a semi-crystalline >> plastic in the polyolefin group.  It is by far the most often used >> plastic worldwide and is primarily used for packaging. Werner & Mertz uses HDPE for bottles and canisters in the Consumer and Professional Divisions and, since autumn 2016, has offered the entire range with packaging made of 100 percent recyclates obtained from the Yellow Bag.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET): PET is a thermoplastic (à plastic) in the polyester family. PET is used in many different ways, including in the production of mostly highly transparent plastic (PET) bottles, films and textile fibers. Werner & Mertz uses recycled PET (PET recyclates) up to 100 percent for the manufacture of plastic bottles. A large share of the plastic is obtained from the Yellow Bag (packaging collection system).

Polypropylene (PP): PP is a thermoplastic (>> plastic), and like >> PE, is in the group of polyolefins.  Its properties are similar to PE, but PP is harder with greater heat resistance. In Europe, PP is – at 19.1 percent  –  the second-largest share of all à plastic used for food packaging, candy wrappings and other packaging. Werner & Mertz uses recycled PP in the manufacturer of bottle caps.

primary microplastic >> microplastic

Recyclate Initiative: Established as an open innovation project in 2012 by Werner & Mertz to promote the use of packaging waste from the >> Yellow Bag in the production of new plastic packaging (>> upcycling).

recycling: describes the reuse of waste products in which used and reprocessed wastes are introduced as >> secondary raw materials to a new product cycle. Processed PET bottles and other recycled >> plastics are made into recyclates that can be used to manufacture new plastic packaging. We’re for Recyclates advances the recycling of plastic from >> Yellow Bag waste collection system.

Red List: Red Lists are national or international scientific  assessments which contain plant and animal species or habitats that are endangered or at risk of extinction. Lawmakers and official agencies use the lists as the basis for nature conservancy, species and environmental protection regulations and guidelines. The categories range from “least concerned” and “vulnerable” to “extinct in the wild” or “extinct”.

renewable raw materials: raw materials originating from plants or animals, from agriculture or forestry, and not used chiefly as foodstuffs for human or animal consumption. Renewable raw materials are reused thermally (biogas, biodiesel, wood chips or pellets, etc.) or materially (technical oils, textiles, fibers, etc.). Werner & Mertz uses a variety of renewable raw materials such as chitosan  and surfactants made from native vegetables oils as ingredients in its brand products.

retting: analogous to composting in which organic material exposed to atmospheric oxygen and organisms at certain temperatures decays into >> CO2, water and minerals. The processes take place in traditional garden composting or in large facilities operated by waste management companies. In that case, the composting is controlled. Ventilation and moisture in the decomposing materials are managed in order to accelerate the process and create high quality compost. >> Biodegradable  >> plastic requires its own composting conditions.

secondary microplastic >> microplastic

secondary raw materials: raw materials obtained from previously used products or disposed of materials. They are used a second time or several times as input for new products. The use of secondary raw materials in a >> circular economy conserves natural resources and promotes sustainable development.

synthetic polymers: A polymer (Greek poly = “many“ and méros = “part”) is a chemical bond of chains of molecules of repeating identical units. Controversy surrounds the use of synthetic polymers as components in many >> plastics because they are not >> biodegradable and may therefore remain in the environment for a very long time (several hundred years).

UBA (German Environment Agency): Established in 1974 to serve as the central environment agency of the Federal Republic of Germany.  Major tasks include giving scientific support to the federal government,  enforcement of environmental laws and providing information to the public about environmental protection. Topics range from waste prevention and climate protection to approval of pesticides and herbicides. UBA headquarters are in Dessau-Roßlau.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Founded in 1972, the environment program of the United Nations is the voice of the environment within the UN. With campaigns, programs and partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations and companies, UNEP works toward sustainable development and environmental protection.

upcycling: term for the retention or improvement of quality in >> secondary raw materials in the >> recycling process in which a new plastic product is created from waste material. The We’re for Recyclates alliance has already been able to reuse the >> plastic >> PET, >> HDPE and >> PP from the >> Yellow Bag waste collection system. In upcycling, a used PET bottle is again made into a PET bottle and used HDPE material is made into HDPE packaging.  Upcycling is the result of genuine material >> recycling, which is the prerequisite for an ecologically consistent and efficient >> circular economy.

UV radiation: Abbreviation for ultraviolet radiation which is contained in the short-wave portion of the invisible rays of the sun. Because the radiation can split certain chemical bonds, many types of plastic react to intense sun exposure by turning brittle and disintegrating.

World Economic Forum: The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a foundation based in Switzerland whose main activity is the organization of the annual WEF in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting takes up current economic topics and environmental subjects of global dimensions. In 2016 the WEF, the  Ellen MacArthur Foundation and others jointly released a study on the worldwide >> circular economy for >> plastic entitled “The New Plastics Economy – Rethinking the future of plastics”.

Yellow Bag: The Yellow Bag (or Yellow Bin) are parts of the Dual System of waste management in Germany and other European countries. Only used product packaging made of plastic, metal or composite materials (lightweight packaging) is disposed of in the Yellow Bag or Bin of the household waste collection system.  The first privately owned provider of this service in Germany was the Duales System Deutschland GmbH (DSD), one of the partners of We’re for Recyclates.

Zooplankton:    >> plankton