The quest for greener cleaning

14 July 2014

Sustainability has been on the agenda for some years but how many businesses have truly embraced it by changing their premises cleaning processes to deliver the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit? Diversey Care comments


Businesses must, quite rightly, set their own priorities. When it comes to sustainability some will be content to switch to products they consider to be more 'environmentally friendly'. Products in this category include those which have been independently tested against industry standards such as the EU Ecolabel and the Nordic Swan certifications. Some suppliers add further credentials by manufacturing products in compliance with the AISE Chartermark. All of these internationally-recognised schemes prove that products meet very demanding standards.

However, for a variety of reasons, many suppliers still choose not to subject their products to such rigorous analysis or are unable to back up their claims with credible documentation. Cleaning teams who are committed to being more sustainable may care to ask them why not.

Sustainability is such an all-embracing subject that simply switching formulations can only ever deliver some of the potential benefits. Many cleaning teams will want to go much further and embed sustainability into their business by changing the way they work and integrating more of their processes.

Adopting super-concentrated cleaning products is a good example. Water is added at the point of use rather than at the factory which means the amount of product required for a specific number of cleaning tasks is less than for ready-to-use alternatives. More chemical and less water is carried on vehicles which reduces the total road miles and carbon footprint of deliveries. Another benefit is that less packaging is required which means fewer raw materials are consumed and less waste is generated, both of which are good sustainability objectives. Ideally the packaging will be fully recyclable.

Super concentrates deliver the biggest sustainability benefits when used with dilution or dosing control equipment that removes the guesswork when preparing solutions to deliver consistency and eliminate waste. This in itself helps to cut costs but further gains are made because solutions prepared consistently to the manufacturer’s specification reduce the need for expensive and time-consuming rewashes.

Incidentally, Diversey Care meets the dual demand for eco-certified cleaning products and super concentrated formulations with its Pur Eco range of EU Ecolabel, Nordic Swan and AISE Chartermarked ranges for building care, room care and kitchen hygiene.

Progressive suppliers will be able to provide evidence, ideally audited by independent sources, to back up their claims. Cleaning teams should be wary of suppliers who cannot. If nothing else, organisations that truly embrace sustainability will want to quantify their operations and that will be impossible without proper documentation during the procurement, implementation and review phases of their contracts.

Across all sectors, cleaning included, customers are demanding their suppliers and service providers can support sustainability. Sustainability is often a core requirement in invitations to tender to ensure purchasers can comply with corporate social responsibility objectives.

Contractors and suppliers who take a robust approach to sustainability will be better positioned to meet these demands. With other parts of Sealed Air, Diversey Care has recently introduced a Sustainable Innovation Product System that, among other outcomes, produces performance indicators showing how products and solutions help customers in six key areas: waste, energy, water, renewable/recyclable materials, carbon footprint and health. This is more than a benchmark because it also helps to drive product and performance improvement.

An early result of this approach is the new Crystal Shield system that builds on the company’s longstanding experience in sustainable floor care. It integrates innovative products, tools and equipment to deliver increasingly sustainable operations which can reduce labour costs by 30% and chemical costs by 20%. Central to this is the TASKI range of scrubber driers which is designed to save time, water, energy and chemicals. These machines do this by ensuring the right amount of water and product is always used.