Or: What goes into our air filter elements

After almost 12 years with the company, our green logo is now part and parcel of MANN+HUMMEL for me. The colour green can however not only stand for MANN+HUMMEL, but for many other topics too, including environmental protection and sustainability.  I have no idea whether this was instrumental in the choice of logo and colour at that time. Many of my colleagues and I have been very busy, particularly over the past year, exploring the link between the green logo and a ‘green’ environmental theme. But let’s go through things in turn:

Nachhaltigkeit bei MANN+HUMMEL

In mid-2012, our customer Renault asked whether it would be possible for us to convert to using certified cellulose fibres in the air filter elements we supply. First of all, we had to determine what exactly about the fibres should or could be certified. You have to bear in mind that many types of filter media in our air filters, much like paper, consist of fibres which are either pure cellulose or a mixture of cellulose and plastics. Cellulose in turn comes from the timber industry, in other words, from trees. You can of course not see what kind of trees have been used to make the cellulose in the filter media. Do the trees come from Germany or from Canada? Are they from naturally managed forests or from a monoculture? Many consumers are extremely interested in the source of raw materials, but in the past, there was no standardised and reliable way to identify timber materials. However, various organisations have now taken on this task, with the aim of promoting the use of timber materials from well-managed, sustainable forests. The key concept here is to protect forests from overexploitation and destruction and secure their long-term conservation through defined management standards. Two organisations which are dedicated to the above objectives are the Forest Stewardship Council ®’ (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes’ (PEFC) (please go to their websites for a precise description).

PEFC and FSC certifications

FSC LogoNow you may ask whether this is something that MANN+HUMMEL should be involved with. Is it something that affects us? The answer is a resounding yes! This is where the second part of the heading comes in, because with our products, we have the opportunity to promote sustainable handling of resources. Such certification has been standard for other products for quite some time: when you next have a chance, just take a close look at milk or fruit juice cartons. You will almost certainly see a logo similar to the one shown here with a little tree and the letters FSC.

This means that the paper in the beverage carton comes from a certified source and a well-managed forest. As well as on beverage cartons, you will also find the logo on many books, printing and writing paper, kitchen rolls and garden furniture. If you can’t see the source of a product at present, it needs to be marked, as previously mentioned, by the FSC logo, for example.

Green filters with FSC certificate

For us, it therefore meant that we wanted to use air filter media with cellulose fibres sourced exclusively from sustainable, well-managed forests. After examining details, we decided on FSC and engaged ourselves with the underlying procedures. Any company wishing to sell its products with an FSC certificate or use the FSC logo must pass an audit to FSC specifications to receive a certificate and certificate number. This certificate number is always displayed under the relevant FSC logo for the product (as with the juice and milk cartons). This creates transparency: you can find the company that the certificate belongs to quickly and easily through the FSC website.

However, simply passing an audit does not permit you to sell certified air filters. All basic materials containing wood must display the FSC logo. In our case, it meant that our filter media suppliers would also need FSC certification. The supply chain is thus complete, because  suppliers from first to last have to achieve the so-called product chain certification.

Marklkofen is just the beginning

All of this required a lot of effort on our part, but finally, we were successful: at the end of 2013, the Marklkofen site (Licence Code FSC-C118474) became the first certified  MANN+HUMMEL plant allowed to use the FSC logo. It is already planned to extend certification to other sites. I would like to take this opportunity to thank most sincerely all colleagues involved at every site!

And what happens now? As requested, our customer Renault is receiving an OES air filter element and an OEM air filter system with an FSC-certified element. It does not end here, however: other projects are already underway and further MANN+HUMMEL sites should be certified.

So now you know that there is far more inside our air filter elements than you might see at first glance!