Leading the way to meet the EU's recycling goal for plastics with award-winning fertilizer bottles

As one of the leading providers of plant care products for homes and gardens, COMPO pursues the highest ecological standards. Beyond a broad spectrum of high-quality products that help users reach the full bloom of their plants, COMPO has been an industry trendsetter for years, pioneering the use of recyclable packaging and earning a multitude of prestigious sustainability awards.

“Our relentless pursuit of innovative concepts for packaging is a cornerstone of our overarching sustainability strategy," says Stephan Engster, CEO of COMPO. "That’s why collaborating with PreZero as a reliable partner was essential for us to be able to develop a unique packaging solution for our liquid fertilizer bottles. It's a solution that effectively merges the highest ecological aspirations with enhanced customer experience and usability. This is why we are delighted to be recognized in the "Plastic Packaging Product" category at the International Plastics Recycling Awards 2023."  says Stephan Engster, CEO von COMPO.

The achievements in packaging from post-consumer recyclates speak for themselves:

100% r-HDPE in white and transparent

Produced at the KRG/PreZero Grünstadt site, the HDPE material used for the bottle's body and view stripe exhibits an impressively high degree of purity.

100% r-PP for closures
 

For our closure systems, we’ve utilized 100% recycled PP materials in a variety of colors, consciously choosing not to use new, primary materials.

100% recyclability
 

In addition to aiming for the highest possible recyclate content, COMPO and PreZero Polymers work towards ensuring that the liquid fertilizer bottles are 100% recyclable.

The challenge

Ecological considerations should apply to both the product and its packaging

Whether it's a small city balcony or a large garden, taking the best possible care of their own patch of greenery and doing the best for their plants is an important concern for amateur gardeners.  Consumers are paying more and more attention to caring for their plants as carefully and environmentally friendly as possible.

However, it would only be one side of the coin if it were only about the use of recyclate for new packaging. COMPO and PreZero Polymers have set themselves the task of also ensuring 100% recyclability in order to keep the raw materials in the cycle.

"Our packaging is not a conventional reusable solution, but a packaging concept that relies on 100% recyclability in addition to a recycled content. They are used for all product categories, i.e. for film bags, bottles, buckets and folding boxes," explains Stephan Engster, CEO of COMPO.

The Solution

Keeping in mind the entire material flow right from the start

COMPO takes its responsibility to people and the environment very seriously. The goal is sourcing and utilizing raw materials as sustainably as possible. With its novel packaging concept, COMPO has been setting industry standards for years. The objective for the new liquid fertilizer bottles was not just to maintain the high use of post-consumer recyclates but to achieve a breakthrough by making the bottles entirely from recycled material.

"We were fascinated by the ambitious goal of COMPO right from the start. To be more precise, we are talking about two challenges here: Adapting the use of recyclates to COMPO's needs in a way that enables them to achieve 100% recyclate content in their bottles while ideally using a single material to ensure recyclability. Usually perspectives are unidirectional, but COMPO exemplifies deep integration of circular thinking and foresight in its operational processes," says Sebastian Gelhaus, PreZero Polymers.     

PreZero Polymers has been a specialist in custom-made HDPE recyclates for years. For the body and viewing stripe of the bottle, the company opted for 100% HDPE material in white and transparent. Both plastic recyclates are characterized by very high quality and purity, being nearly devoid of any color-compromising components, and originate from the plastic recycling facility in Grünstadt (KRG GmbH and PreZero). Along with its sorting, washing, and extrusion plants, as well as mills for pure plastics, the plant operates at a technically advanced and highly modern level with a permitted processing capacity of 54,800 tons of waste plastic per year. The constituent materials for COMPO's liquid fertilizer plastic bottles come predominantly from post-consumer household wastes, specifically from designated yellow bags or bins. As a waste disposal service provider, PreZero not only collects these lightweight packaging wastes but also ensures, thanks to its sophisticated sorting and processing facilities, that such high-quality plastic recyclates can be produced.

"The process of obtaining our highly pure recyclates is much more intricate and demanding than most users and consumers realize," explains Sebastian Gelhaus, PreZero Polymers. "It's not only about receiving an adequate volume of lightweight packaging for recycling but also about meticulously sorting and cleaning it of impurities. Just like others in the recycling industry, we have actively invested in innovative technologies over the past few years, enabling us to deliver exceptional results today."

In the field of commercial waste and recyclable material management, initial materials for plastic recovery are usually pre-sorted more precisely, making the job for recycling companies like PreZero easier. By recovering materials from both municipal and industrial sectors, PreZero ensures a consistent supply of base materials necessary for creating recyclates.

“There’s a lot of discussion about recycling and recovering plastic for the next cycle in the loop, but what’s not talked about enough is the origin of the material. For us at PreZero, it's crucial to keep disposal and return paths short. Our starting material for recyclates distributed in Europe comes from European material flows. This allows us to minimize CO2 emissions by using the shortest possible delivery routes. We also don’t run the risk of delays in the supply chain, as we have often experienced in recent months in global logistics traffic, particularly on sea routes from Asia. This will be very important for our customers in the future if we want to meet the EU's recycling targets. Customers seek reliable access to materials and want to understand their ecological footprint," says Gelhaus.

As illustrated in COMPO's case, reliable access to various materials was a crucial factor in the ultimate success of liquid fertilizer bottles. The PP material for the multicolored closures comes from PreZero Polymers' factory in Haimburg, Austria (with a capacity of 50,000 tons of recycled plastic) and makes a significant contribution to producing various recyclates (PP, HDPE, and PS). The inflow to the plant mainly comes from PreZero Germany's sorting facility in Eitting near Munich.  

Thanks to its collaboration with PreZero, relying on its expertise in production and quality assurance and using PreZero's network of facilities, COMPO has achieved its goal of using 100% recycled material for its liquid fertilizer bottles, almost entirely eliminating the use of primary plastics.

Compo Hr. Engster
"Together, we have ensured that the bottles and caps are also one hundred percent recyclable thanks to their unique choice of materials."

Stephan Engster, CEO of COMPO.  

The Result

PreZero Polymers and COMPO win "Plastic Packaging Product Award 2023"

Together, PreZero Polymers and COMPO achieved the final breakthrough in the optimization of liquid fertilizer bottles towards the one hundred percent target. In May 2023, both companies were recognized for this achievement at the international "Plastics Recycling Awards 2023" in the "Plastic Packaging Product" category. The Plastics Recycling Awards Europe are presented annually in Amsterdam during the Plastic Recycling Show Europe. The award winners exemplify progress in the circular use of recycled materials, product design and innovative manufacturing.

About COMPO

COMPO is a leading provider of branded products for home and garden plants. COMPO's portfolio includes everything a plant essentially needs for healthy growth – from potting soil and fertilizers to lawn seeds and solutions for pest control and protection of plants, with emphasis on organic products. 

About PreZero

PreZero Group is an internationally recognized environmental service provider specializing in waste and recycling management. PreZero is the environmental division of the Neckarsulm-based Schwarz Group, which also includes the retail giants Kaufland and Lidl as well as Schwarz Produktion. With a dedicated workforce of around 30,000 PreZero operates at 485 locations in various countries, including Germany, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the USA. In collaboration with its customers, PreZero merges economy with ecology to support their sustainable development, ultimately aiming to establish closed-loop recycling systems.