Our Recyclate Initiative
At Frosch we follow a true eco-cycle principle, that is, we design our packaging in such a way that it can be kept in a closed loop for recycled materials. Back in 2012 Werner & Mertz and its industry partners developed an innovative process to obtain high-quality recycled material (recyclates, or recycled plastic) from plastic waste. The result:
Most of our Frosch bottles are made of up to 100 % used plastic. We already use plastic from the Yellow Bag. Our shower gel bottles, for example, contain up to 100 % plastic from the Yellow Bag or Yellow Bin.
Best of all, our prize-winning Recyclate Initiative is an "Open Innovation" project in which new partners are welcome to join us! In the long term our resource and environmentally friendly circular economy could gain acceptance beyond the borders of industries and countries and become standard practice.
More plastic than fish in the ocean?
We have a big problem: plastic trash. Every year about nine million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean. According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2050, there could be more plastic, by weight, than fish in the world's oceans. The solution for clean oceans is not found in the oceans but rather on land.
Why? Plastic is a reusable material and should be treated as such.
How? When plastic is kept in a closed loop, that is, recycled, it cannot end up in the ocean as waste
The Closed-Loop Principle
We think it's only right that an old water bottle is made into a new one and that yesterday's newspaper is turned into tomorrow's. Likewise, old plastic bottles have to be made into new bottles. Plastic is a reusable material which, like glass, metal or paper, should be put into a closed loop. For wherever a material cycle is closed, no waste is created.
The Yellow Bag is a rich source of high-quality used plastic. For years our Frosch bottles have been made from up to 100 % old plastic, some of which we have obtained from the Yellow Bag.
But that is not the usual practice. Most of the plastic trash from the Yellow Bag is currently downcycled (recycled to yield low quality material) exported to other countries or incinerated ("energy recovery). Only a small portion goes through processing to yield high-quality material, that is, upcycled. Plastic is, however, a precious material which can be recycled almost an infinite number of times.
German Sustainability Award Design 2021 for recyclable packaging
The German Sustainability Award is an established name when it comes to recognizing sustainable brands and concepts. In 2009 Frosch was the winner in the category Most Sustainable Brand. There's cause for celebration this year too. In the category "Design", which honors visionary, sustainable packaging concepts, the recyclable packaging from Frosch (Werner & Mertz) was among the winners.
Our Recyclate Initiative founded in 2012 has impressively proven that brand name packaging can be produced with used plastic obtained from the Yellow Bag, the jury said about its choice of Frosch. The technology makes that possible not only for laundry detergents and cleaning products, but – for the first time ever – shower gels too. The jury also said that there is no comparable reuse of the mixed packaging from post-consumer waste collections anywhere else in the world.
Recycling & Climate Protection
In an expert report issued in 2019, the Oeko-Institut assessed the climate friendliness of diverse recycling processes, using the example of a half-liter bottle.
The result: Even when the total energy expenditures for all recycling processes are taken into account, recycling is always significantly more climate-friendly than new production of the same material. A recycled PET bottle, which contains 20 percent of carefully sorted recyclable material from the Yellow Bag, is as kind to the climate as a bottle from the single type, deposit bottle collection.
You'll find more info about the study (in German only) at initiative-frosch.de.
What are recyclates actually?
The word "recyclates" refers to used plastic, specifically recycled plastic.
The recyclates for the manufacture of our PET bottles (polyethylene terephthalate) come from the Yellow Bag (at least 20 %) and from shredded deposit bottles (80 %).
Our shower gel bottles are made of 100 % plastic (HDPE = High Density Polyethylene) from the Yellow Bag or the Yellow Bin. A world-first in the cosmetics category!
The whole thing works this way:
The plastic trash from the Yellow Bag is sorted in a trash sorting facility, cleaned and ground into flakes. An innovative laser technology frees the flakes from the last chemically contaminated particles. What's left is clean, single-origin recyclates. From that material we produce new bottles which can again be disposed of in the Yellow Bag, reprocessed and made into bottles again. A genuine recycling loop is created and the plastic does not end up in the oceans!
Plastic as a resource - how honest recycling works
And what is the difference between PIR and PCR?
PIR – the so called Post-Industrial-Recyclate (or Pre-Consumer-Recyclate) – derives from plastic waste of industrial production, thus without ever being in usage by the consumer.
On the other hand, Post-Consumer-Recyclate derives from consumer waste like packaging materials, foils and plastic bags. For example, the collection of returnable bottles or plastic waste from the "Gelbe Sack" is specified as PCR.
What is microplastic?
Primary microplastic is defined as microscopically small pieces of plastic used, for example, as peeling particles in cosmetics or as opacifiers in hand soap, shower lotions or cleaning products. It also gets into waterways via tire wear on paved streets or into sewerage systems via the laundering of synthetic clothing
Secondary microplastic is created when large plastic pieces in the ocean are broken apart by friction from waves, salt water and wind and disintegrate into tiny particles.
A particle that measures less than five millimeters is generally said to be microplastic.
Invisible Danger: Microplastic
Besides the obvious trashing of the oceans and coasts with large pieces of plastic, another danger lurks in what is called "microplastic". That term refers to tiny plastic particles from soap, cosmetics and cleaners which enter the ocean via waterways and also the smallest pieces of plastic waste on the beaches and in the seas.
When sea dwellers swallow the microscopic particles, microplastic enters the food chain and ultimately lands on your dinner plate. That's why we have to rethink the entire system! Frosch is already showing that things can be done differently. Our complete product range achieves its full cleaning and care effectiveness without any microplastic at all.