RAUKANTEX eco integrated in systems of meta Trennwandanlagen GmbH & Co. KG

Sustainable edgeband solutions in laser quality make an important contribution to circular economy

meta has been a household name in Germany in the production of WC cubicles and partition wall systems for 50 years. The company is based in Rengsdorf in the district of Neuwied and produces tailor-made amenities for public facilities, e.g. in hotels or the leisure sector. Dr. Harald Werner, Managing Director, provides an insight into this special interior design sector and tells us why he believes there will be no alternative to sustainable solutions in future.

Dr Werner, we are all likely to have visited one of your reference properties. With 100,000 customers, you are hard to miss. How did your company discover this interior design niche?

We really are hard to miss, given the great many projects that we have already furnished. meta started out in the traditional woodworking trade but specialised in partition wall systems back in the 1970s. Many of our customers come from the public building sector, including retirement homes, train stations, hospitals, nurseries, schools and swimming pools. But our clients also include office buildings, restaurants and hotels as well as camp sites, privately operated sports facilities and spas. We specialise in furnishing functional spaces that everyone needs. So customers usually choose a timeless design such as white, grey or pepper. Schools, swimming pools and nurseries often opt for more colourful designs. And for a few years now, our industry has also been following the general design trends – using noir and graphite. While in the hotel and catering industries, wooden decor is making a comeback. 

meta_HaraldWerner_Portrait_CL - 1113052

Dr. Harald Werner

meta_Firmengebäude - 1113048

In your industry, with regard to marketing, arguments such as longevity, durability and accessibility spring to mind first. Why is sustainability so important to you?

This is also connected with global trends. Our durable, robust products are inherently designed to be sustainable because buyers intend to use them for decades. Our French parent company attaches great importance to a holistic approach to sustainability. And from a customer perspective, public sector clients in particular have been actively driving this for well over a year.

The path to climate neutrality and sustainability, therefore, also applies to your special interiors. How is your company positioning itself for this? 

Fortunately, our highly automated production is not an energy-intensive operation. It does not use any gas, only electricity. In addition, we are currently developing projects such as our own photovoltaic system and recovering heat from the production process as well as heavily focussing on minimal waste / scrap quantities and short transportation routes.

This sounds interesting. How sustainable are our products today?

Our production mainly uses chipboard and HPL panels. These meet the requirements for DGNB-certified buildings. But in addition, we are always looking for sustainable options for integrating other components into our processes. Hence, REHAU’s ‘eco’ edgeband with a proportion of 50 percent recycled materials sounded extremely promising to us. 

Sustainable edgebands. You could argue that these are only a small part of a piece of furniture. What makes REHAU’s concept so convincing for you to implement it?

All our chipboard panels are ‘sealed’ by laser welding with REHAU edgebands. There are often more than five metres per component. So we’re talking about several 100,000 metres per year that will contribute to the circular economy. I don’t consider that a small part. It was important for us not to have to make any compromises in terms of product or process. Keeping the same machine parameters for the edge banding machine was just as important as the usual flawless appearance of our components. REHAU was able to guarantee both. As a result, we have now switched almost all our chipboard panel finishing to RAUKANTEX eco. 

meta_Produktion_5_CL - 1113054

meta_Produktion_4_CL - 1113053

Laser processing is an absolute must. Can REHAU’s sustainable edgebands be easily integrated into your manufacturing processes? 

Of course, our production exclusively uses laser technology – and has done since 2011. The functional zero joint is extremely important for our sector. Because the spaces we furnish are used heavily and cleaned frequently. Joints would soon become dirty without a fused edgeband. In addition, I can’t recall a single customer complaint involving a problem with the edgeband. The integration of RAUKANTEX eco was extremely easy.

Are your customers willing to pay more for a sustainable solution? 

Clearly, sustainability has its price. We currently do not pass on the additional costs for the sustainable edgeband line to our customers. But this is not the case for other materials. If we opt for a higher certification level for our panel material – we currently meet the DGNB Gold standard – this will be much more expensive. At the moment, barely anyone can afford this additional price. Skyrocketing construction costs are currently hindering progress when it comes to sustainability.

meta_Produkt_Shots_2_CL - 1113051

meta_Produkt_Shots_6_CL - 1113050

meta_Produkt_Shots_3_CL - 1113049

Engineering progress

Enhancing lives