First packaging made of 100% HDPE recyclates


In a follow-up to its sensational success with plastic bottles made of 100 percent recycled PET, 20 percent of which came from the Yellow Bag, Werner & Mertz GmbH is now concentrating on making packaging of PE (polyethylene).

In cooperation with bottle manufacturer Alpla-Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG and the Green Dot, Werner & Mertz developed and manufactured a new kind of bottle for cleaning products of recycled plastic obtained from the Yellow Bag collection system.

In recognition of this pioneering achievement, Werner & Mertz received the German Packaging Award in the Sustainability category in 2016. In its announcement on 18 August the jury praised the work as genuine recycling which conserves finite resources and yields bottles that look almost identical to those made with virgin material. The jury also appreciated the way the original appearance and quality of the bottles has been maintained without compromising product safety. The German Packaging Award was presented at the trade fair FachPack in Nuremberg on 27 September.

At the Werner & Mertz GmbH factory in Mainz, emsal hardwood floor care and the green care PROFESSIONAL TANET SR 15 are now going into the world's first bottles made of 100% PE recyclates from the Yellow Bag. Eventually all PE packaging for the Werner & Mertz brands will be manufactured in the new quality from the recycled plastic obtained from the Yellow Bag.

The remarkable thing is that up to now no translucent and white material has ever been produced from recyclable domestic refuse. Conventional PE recyclates do not have those qualities. The challenge in the development process was to identify the PE among the old plastic in the Yellow Bag which satisfies the physical and technological specifications of the demanding extrusion blow molding production process and the quality requirements for packaging function and appearance. A translucent material was needed that would allow the consumer to see the fill-level of the product.

The PE recyclates in the market do not fulfill this requirement. As a matter of fact, the gray discoloration of the material is simply covered up with dark dyes. The declared goal of the Recyclate Initiative, however, is to forego use of dyes and thus achieve recyclability and genuine recycling. Until recently the Yellow Bag did not yield material for high-quality reuse. With improved color sorting, it is now possible to obtain recycled PE flakes in natural colors and white. An improved washing process and an integrated decontamination step are further important developments in the manufacture of high-quality rPE packaging. Werner & Mertz and its development partners have produced not just simple bottle shapes, but also highly stable containers equipped with handles made of 100% recyclates.

"We strive to answer the question of how to make a sustainable way of life feasible for most people. Resolving the apparent contradiction between ecology and the effectiveness of cleaning products is our main concern. In concrete terms, that means we want to be one step ahead of ecological benchmarks in all essential elements of our products, i.e., formulas, packaging and production. With our newest development of PE packaging from post-consumer recyclates we show what genuine recyclability looks like," said Reinhard Schneider, CEO of Werner & Mertz and the initiator of the Recyclate Initiative.

"With the Recyclate Initiative, Werner & Mertz provides an example for the circular economy of the future," said Michael Wiener, CEO of the Green Dot. "Together we in the initiative show what's possible in plastic recycling. We have made great progress in recent years and have not yet come to the end of development."