Circularity gets its own branding

A word with Dr. Maren Otte: Relevance of transparent sustainability communication and CWS' own think circular branding for circular products.

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4 June 2021

A word with Dr. Maren Otte


Dr. Maren Otte is responsible for the sustainability roll out of the CWS Group and works intensively with her interdisciplinary team for a better and healthier tomorrow. True to the CWS claim "For a healthier and safer tomorrow", the ONE Team talked to her about the sustainability strategy and current projects.

Ms Otte, as Group Director Corporate Communications & Responsibility, you are responsible for the CWS Group's sustainability strategy, among other things. The company aims to become the most sustainable company in the industry by 2024. Where do we currently stand?

At the CWS Group, we work every day for a healthier and safer future. We can only achieve this if we offer sustainable solutions. We all know: Our world has reached its ecological limit - more resources are currently consumed than raw materials can grow back. Companies must also take responsibility to help here. For us, the key to solving this ecological problem lies in the circular economy: we look at the entire life cycle of a product from a sustainable perspective. From design and the selection of materials, to use and disposal - we think in cycles and have all life phases in mind. 

What exactly do you mean by that? In other words, what measures are taken to make the products we offer more sustainable?

The most sustainable product is, of course, the one that doesn't have to be produced in the first place. Making products more durable, keeping them in a cycle and recycling them at the end of their life - that is the core of sustainable products. Most of our products are rented, so we have control over the entire product cycle. We live up to two specific targets in 2021. The first is that by the end of this year we want to generate around 35 percent of new customer business on the basis of sustainable products. To achieve this, we first have to analyse the entire product portfolio and evaluate it in terms of sustainability. The measures will focus on biodiversity, climate change and the circularity of products. Secondly, we create a corporate carbon footprint for the CWS Group and work to reduce our footprint further and further. Here, too, we are reviewing potential savings along the entire value chain.

You mentioned circularity in relation to sustainability. What do you mean in particular?

The core idea is that products are kept in the service cycle for as long as possible and that recycling opportunities are used. For us, this means buying resources responsibly, focusing on durable design and thinking through the life cycle from start to finish during product development and looking at recycling opportunities early on - from the continued use of fibres to reuse of old products in other contexts. In the future, we will identify this basic idea of sustainability across products and life cycles with our own "Think Circular" label.

Is sustainability a pure sales hit or simply the future of the economy?

We see that customers also expect increasing transparency in communication in the non-financial sector. Major clients are not only seeking information on social compliance issues, but are also asking us for sustainability certifications and CO2 balances. Everyone is currently discussing the "New Normal". What should it look like? For sure: even more sustainable. Under the heading of green recovery, circular models play a key role. We are taking up this idea and are already thinking about what the world could look like tomorrow. We think circularly and thus strengthen our strength: the rental model.


Ms Otte, thank you very much for the interview!