Waste management

Waste management is a key aspect of our corporate environmental protection activities. This includes measures to prevent, reduce, and properly dispose of waste, as well as recycle materials and energy. Our waste management activities also cover proper waste storage at our sites, which is also crucial to occupational health and safety.

When it comes to waste management, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany utilizes a Group-wide environmental management system that is certified to ISO 14001. In the course of the ISO 14001 certification process as well as internal EHS audits, our waste management system is examined at both headquarters as well as at the relevant sites.

EQ, the Group function in charge of environmental protection, bears overall responsibility for waste management (see Environmental management). At sites outside of Germany, EHS managers are responsible for implementing measures and receive regular training from EQ. As part of the annual ISO 14001 audit of our environmental management system, EHS managers and site management are educated on waste prevention and recycling.

With our Group-wide “Waste Management” standard, we have implemented a uniform waste management framework for all our sites. This standard defines organizational structures and processes and is regularly updated. The type and quantity of waste is logged and documented at all sites and communicated to the EQ Group function.

Waste output in 2013 and 2014

The company produced more waste in 2014 than in the previous year, which rose from 161,000 metric tons in 2013 to 229,000 metric tons in 2014. Waste from construction and renovation projects accounted for the majority of the waste (2013: 24%; 2014: 47%), stemming in particular from the remodeling of our Global headquarters in Darmstadt. We disposed of 108,000 metric tons of the total waste produced in 2014, and 121,000 metric tons were recycled/recovered (material recycling plus waste to energy).

For the most part, waste is externally recycled or disposed of (2013: approx. 85%; 2014: 91%). Being the one who generates the waste, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is ultimately responsible for its final disposal. As such, service providers are chosen with extreme care. The terms and conditions for disposal are contractually stipulated, and service providers are required to prove that the waste is properly disposed of. We regularly audit these providers, especially if they are involved with handling hazardous waste.

We continuously work to optimize chemical processes in order to prevent, reduce and recycle waste. Among other measures, solvents are treated and recycled.

For instance, in the 2013-2014 period, we started recycling heptane, a chemical that accumulates during the purification of liquid crystals. In this process, heptane is utilized as a solvent to separate mixtures. We collect the heptane, have an external recycling company treat it, and then reuse the purified solvent in our processes. Our recycling rate is over 85%, which is enabling us to lower our heptane consumption by 1,900 metric tons per year and thus reduce our total waste. This is simultaneously leading to significant improvement in the carbon footprint of the process.

The life science business uses methanol for the production of filtration membranes. While the majority of the methanol is treated on site and then reused, the remainder cannot be reused in the process. Luckily, methanol constitutes an important raw material for municipal wastewater treatment, and the life science business' remaining reclaimed methanol is now being utilized by a local wastewater treatment plant. You can find more information on our website .

Goals: Waste management














Status in 2013 and 2014


Reduce the life science business' waste output by 10% relative to the baseline 2006)

Introduce measures to minimize waste and recycle materials, solvents, and other waste byproducts.

End of 2015

Between 2006 and 2014, the life science business lowered its waste output by 15%.

The life science business has identified and implemented opportunities to distill and reuse solvents in the manufacturing process. At the Bedford, Massachusetts (USA) facility, methanol that cannot be reused in the process after multiple distillations is used as a feed chemical for a local municipal wastewater treatment facility. In 2014, 145 metric tons of methanol were reused externally.

Increases in production yields reduced the amount of products scrapped during manufacturing.


Perform waste audits to identify ways to reduce waste or increase recycling efficiency

End of 2015

In 2014, waste audits were performed on the life science business' facilities in Molsheim, France, and Kankakee, Illinois (USA).

Legend: Achieved In progress Not achieved New goal


Publication of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

In the United States and Canada the subsidiaries of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operate under the umbrella brand EMD.

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