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Sustainability & Green Cleaning – The How To Guide

We shared a post that highlighted research by Ethical Consumer Magazine showing toilet paper is becoming less and less sustainable when compared to 2011. Included within this research Kimberly-Clark, one of the world’s largest suppliers of toilet paper, indicated that the recycled proportion of toilet paper (the wood pulp believe it or not) dropped from 30% to 23.5%.

When you read information like this it’s difficult to not wonder what other everyday items you thought to be sustainable actually aren’t.

For a number of years, rightly so, the commercial cleaning industry has needed to adapt to the changing needs of its customers. Green cleaning has been mentioned continuously, although it seems to be a buzzword that perhaps isn’t used as truthfully as we would like. What do we at Abelian think should be focused on when discussing all things green?


Single Use Plastics

Plastic is a number one priority that we should all be aiming to reduce, especially single use plastics. Single use plastic can actually be reduced by a savvy commercial cleaning partner when looking at packaging. Highly concentrated cleaning solutions that require dilution help to minimise the collective amount of plastic produced from cleaning services. Also, as innovation continues to change the industry, soluble solution pods that can be dropped into liquid are becoming even more popular. Domestic cleaning at home has seen a benefit from products like these in recent years. Access within professional cleaning is becoming increasingly open.

Even more so, refill products provide additional support. Containers that products have been purchased in are able to be refilled when required. Asking if your commercial cleaning provider uses a supplier with this option can be beneficial. Not only does this benefit the environment but it will also impact the cost of your monthly consumable invoice as it can be a cheaper option; less packaging, less cost.


What can your facility do?

What about your employees? Single use plastic in the office often comes from bottled water, plastic cutlery in canteens and even the shopping bags that take-out lunches are collected in. Refill water stations are important here, promote your employees to use this station and provide glass cups rather than those white flimsy plastic options.

Although it may seem extreme, but a ban on the use of single-use water bottles should be considered. Encourage your employees to become aware of the impact of plastic which takes over 1000 years to breakdown. Why not go a step further and provide your employees with branded bottles, it means you benefit from the promotion of your company when they’re out and about.

If your company is fortunate enough to have a canteen, champion the use of recyclable cutlery or use washable versions. Making these changes all go towards your company positively and sustainably reducing single use plastic. Also, encourage your team members to bring their own lunch in lunch boxes. You’ll help them to save money, fuel their day and reduce the need for plastic parts that make up standard sandwich or salad packaging. If they do want to head to the shops, why not provide them with re-usable bags, brand them again to get your brand out there in unlikely places.

Again, why not go one step further? Provide monthly rewards and incentives for your employees that follow these environmentally conscious ideas. Share your success as customers now look to share business with, and buy from those actively championing the environment.

You’re unlikely to eliminate all single use plastic in your office, as is your commercial cleaning provider but actively making steps to reduce its need, as much as possible, is crucial.


Safe Cleaning Solutions

The impact of commercial cleaning on the environment is known to pretty much everyone. Ways in which this impact can be reduced is paying attention to the cleaning solutions and their chemical make-up. Reducing toxicity can be done by investing in forward thinking innovation that has developed technology to make water electrostatic, as an example.

Charging the water particles allows it to stick to germs, bacteria and grime ultimately killing 99.99%. Technology of this sort reduces the need for toxic chemicals that are not only harmful to the environment but also human health. Think about schools or areas where vulnerable people spend prolonged amounts of time. Cleaning companies that understand, and think of the complete use of a facility are ones that are experienced enough to consider the negative impact of concentrated chemicals.

Reducing the use of toxic chemicals flows nicely into the Eco-friendly buzzword. This is a phrase that is often used by companies to showcase their focus on reducing their environmental impact. What actually does that mean though? How do you know that, in the case of commercial cleaning, your cleaning provider is using environmentally friendly cleaning solutions? Ecolabel.eu is a logo that everyone should ideally look for when choosing their cleaning solutions and products. This label should be prominent in your supplies cupboard.

How is EU Ecolabel environmentally conscious?

  • Minimised use of hazardous substances that may be harmful to aquatic environments
  • Products are highly biodegradable and so are less damaging when they flow into waste water systems
  • Reduced packaging is used
  • Fit-for-use criteria guarantees products still perform to the same standard as their less eco-friendly equivalents

Another method in which you can identity whether your provider has a proactive approach to reducing environment impact is looking for an ISO 1400:2015 accreditation. This ISO is given to companies that focus business practices to be sustainable for the environment. It considers everything from reducing water and energy consumption, eco-friendly equipment, the transportation, storage and use of equipment and materials.

Understanding labels and the regulation and authority behind them will help you to identify if eco-friendly is being used just as a buzzword.


Recycling Systems and Waste Management

Waste management systems should really be in every facility regardless of whether it is an office, school, leisure centre or medical practice. It allows you to streamline your waste, recycle what can be and select a no landfill policy.

Commercial cleaning providers can use multiple techniques to assist you in managing your waste. You don’t necessarily need a cleaning provider to make simple changes within your facility

Reduce the amount of waste you are producing by selecting your parcels or facility packages to be delivered in minimal packaging. So often we receive tiny parcels in huge boxes filled out with unnecessary bubble wrap. When items are received, ensure that the packaging is binned in the correct recycling bin.

Reuse items, or find different uses for things within your facility. The immediate thing that comes to mind is reducing the amount of paper used. Becoming more of a paperless company can help to tackle this. When printing is necessary, select your ink cartridges to be refilled rather than buying new replacements – it’s often cheaper too! Or, become part of a scheme that replants trees with every one that is cut down to create the paper that you use. Simple measures like this can be incredibly effective.

If you have units, filing cabinets, office organisers, computers or technology that may be no use in your office – don’t just immediately throw them in the bin. Think resourcefully about this, are there any start-up companies that could use your unwanted office chairs or filing cabinets? Your computers or old printers can be donated to companies that may use them for spare parts or be revamped for another use. How many charity shops have you gone past that have old furniture in? Donate unneeded items from furniture pieces down to office lamps, old mugs or even accessories that have helped to give your facility some personality.

Yes, you may think that it’s a time consuming activity, but actively encouraging your employees to change their attitude towards recycling can be a sure way to get everyone involved in helping the environment, and another person.


Introduce Recycling Bins fit for Purpose

A winning strategy to become more sustainable is to ensure designated recycling bins are available for waste. Provide bins for cardboard, plastic, cans, paper and food waste. Your commercial cleaning provider should be implementing this in all facilities if it hasn’t already been done. Educate your employees to make sure they are dropping their litter in the correct bin.

Also, removing excessive waste bins can help to encourage employees to use recycling bins. Each desk really doesn’t need its own plastic filled bin liner, does it?

When it comes to bin bags, eco-friendly recycled bin liners are a new introduction that you can enquire about using. Granted, this might not be possible for everyone but these are all smart ways of thinking to become more environmentally sustainable.


Fibre Technology and Tissue Based Products

We found this really interesting when it was written in the Cleaning Matters article in June – Sustainable fibre technology. Advancements in using by-product items have meant Essity plans to use wheat straw and plant-based renewable resources to manufacture tissue products. This can be used in a variety of cleaning materials and consumables from fibre clothes to tissue based products. Knowing that your commercial cleaning provider is keeping up to date with innovations within the industry means you are far more likely to evolve with them. They will be able to discuss introducing these products or technologies helping you to become an even more green company.


Other methods of being sustainable and increasing productivity

Often or not cleaning services will be carried out outside of working hours, this can be after school or when offices or medical practices are closed. Saving energy needs a cleaning strategy. Sometimes flow cleaning is appropriate, in that cleaning teams will complete the cleaning of a room one by one moving methodically. This means that lights are not unnecessarily left on and energy it saved overall. However, sometimes this isn’t appropriate for large scale facilities, especially when jobs cannot be simultaneously completed. So what other things can be done to increase productivity whilst remaining sustainable?


Hard Floor Cleaning

Hard floor cleaning traditionally uses mops and buckets filled with water where the cleaning solution is diluted in. Mopping solutions that don’t need buckets can help to tackle excess water use, and can be more sustainable too. Bucketless mopping controls the amount of water dispensed from an internal reservoir, reducing excess. Cleaning solutions will be measured based on their dilution so chemicals are no excessively used, saving money in the long run. The set up time for bucketless mopping also increases productivity. Filling mop buckets and carrying them to locations all takes time. You might not think this easy set up saves a huge amount of time, but small time savings like this all add up.


Sanitation and Disinfection

Employee, public and student health is so important, especially when the risk of flu outbreaks increases during autumn and winter months. Sickness outbreaks put your employees at risk, so having a cleaning method in place should be a top priority. In terms of sustainability and man power, the mentioned electrostatic technology is perfect.

A room can typically, dependant on size, be fully sanitised within 5 minutes. The technology means particles attach to all surfaces areas, not just those in eye line so hard to reach germs are killed. Also, light films of disinfectant means there is minimal room downtime should a clean happen during work hours. The disinfectants used are not laced with chemicals either! So it’s safe for both the environment and people. Productivity can be understood when you think about how long it would take just one person to manually wipe every surface in a room. Five minutes per room is probably as efficient as it can get.


Scrubber Dryer

Granted, this probably isn’t the most recent form of technology as it’s been around for a while. However, we think it deserves a spot in this list as it reduces the number of manual hours required to scrub and clean hard floors, as well as buff for a finished shine. Scrubber driers can be sat on or walked behind by cleaning teams where results can be achieved in almost half the time. The scrubber technology can be changed to be suitable for a variety of floors. This means one machine can be used to clean multiple surfaces meaning only on investment is needed. Granted, it is an investment that not everyone is willing to make.

Dependent on the scrubber drier used water usage is dependent; therefore understanding the machine will allow you to know if it will provide you with water conservation. Also, due to the technology within the machine only eco appropriate cleaning solutions can be used. This is due to the fact toxic chemicals will in fact cause internal damage. They’re eco-friendly without having to think about it.

Want to become more eco-friendly – Contact us

Feel free to drop us a comment or fill out our contact form if you’re looking to partner with a cleaning company that can help you become more environmentally sustainable.



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