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Leading the way on sustainable practices

26 February 2018

Replying to our request for responses to the question on how sustainable sustainable practices should be linked to cleaning and hygiene, industry experts agreed that this should be a main consideration in all areas.

Robertson Facilities Management soft FM operations manager Geoff Wren said sustainability is now an important consideration for all business: “Whether it’s a commitment to reducing energy consumption or reducing the amount of waste produced, it is now an expectation that businesses will look to improve their sustainability credentials.

"It’s demanded by consumers, partners, customers, pressure groups and Governments. Cleaning and hygiene practices are no different.”

The rise in sustainable cleaning practices shows no sign of slowing in the commercial cleaning sector. Customers now demand environmentally green products, he continues, and it is important that FMs consider their approach in the cleaning and maintenance of their buildings.

“In recent years, awareness of sustainable practices has increased significantly. By adapting environmentally beneficial cleaning and hygiene practices, businesses can boost their reputation,” says Mr Wren.

There were previous concerns that adopting these practices could be costly, but as the market continues to embrace the use of technology, effectiveness and efficiencies continue to improve.

These are helping to drive down the costs of green cleaning practices, meaning they should be more viable for businesses to adopt.

“By providing green cleaning, not only can benefits to buildings, occupants, and the environment be improved, but also a business’s reputation.

"To truly link cleaning and hygiene to sustainable practices, they must not be considered as an afterthought,” says Mr Wren.

Genesis Biosciences general manager Dr Emma Saunders says sustainable practices can ensure that FM cleaning methods are as smart, safe and effective as they can be.

“Traditional chemical cleaners aren’t fit for modern cleaning demands and by providing long-term cost savings, greater protection for end-users, and supporting environmental policies, sustainable chemical-alternative probiotic-based cleaners have an important role to play in the FM industry.”

In the long-term, probiotic-based cleaners are more sustainable as they do not corrode surfaces like traditional chemical counterparts, she continues, and offer safe, long-lasting cleaning protection without abrasive action, meaning surfaces look new for longer and repair or replacement work could be required less frequently.

Probiotic-based cleaners also have less environmental impact, as they often contain less oil-derived materials like surfactants or solvents, helping to keep the world clean safely.

Chemical cleaners usually rely on non-sustainable raw materials and may release harmful chemical residues during manufacturing or use, whereas the active agents in probiotic cleaners are naturally occurring and non-toxic to human and plant health.

The beneficial bacteria are also able to “out compete harmful bacteria”, offering long-lasting protection and making environments cleaner and safer for longer.

“In the 21st century, the development and universal use of environmentally-responsible products that don’t put staff or the environment in danger is imperative.

Adopting biological products as part of a sustainable approach to cleaning will revolutionise the facilities management industry, whilst having a minimal negative impact on the wider environment,” Dr Saunders concludes.

Principle Cleaning Services sales and marketing director Matt Kuwertz says sustainable practices should strive to achieve a greater output or improved result without increasing the amount of resources required.

“Offering a sustainable cleaning solution is not only beneficial from an environmental perspective it also typically improves standards and reduces costs, especially if this has not been reviewed for some time.

"Smart contractors see this as an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from those that continue to use traditional unsustainable cleaning methods,” he says.

Equipment and technology has improved productivity and removed a significant amount of waste from the cleaning process, added to the fact that cleaning providers now have access to powerful data enabling them to make intelligent decisions on how to utilise teams.

“Using eco label products in daily cleaning services where chemicals are required ensures that all cleaning agents have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle, from the extraction of raw material to production, use and disposal,” he continues.

“Recycling targets continue to be a prominent driver for organisations and rightly so if we are to preserve the environment and hit the pollution reduction levels that have been defined.

"Engaging with the end users within the building is key to a successful sustainability strategy as ultimately they have such an impact on the levels of recycling that can be achieved,” says Mr Kuwertz.

Use of technology to increase sustainability, while providing additional benefits, is discussed by Ezitracker managing director Christian Berenger, who states that cleaning companies are increasingly required to verify attendance and time spent on site to clients.

Time and attendance software can assist service providers to provide the necessary data, while also improving safeguarding practices for on-site and remote workers.

“Having full, real-time visibility of staff attendance and punctuality is key. Time and attendance data can be captured using either a landline / mobile telephone or another workforce monitoring device.

"The data is then sent in real-time, so managers can get a clear picture of what staff are where, and when, receive immediate alerts for late arrivals, no-shows and early leavers and act fast to minimise service disruption,” he states.

“Remote worker technology helps with many health and safety and compliance issues; Working Time Directive compliance, insuring remote workers are kept safe and evidence that SLAs are being met.

"The technology significantly reduces potential for fraud and time-keeping disputes as it enables payroll managers to compare actual hours worked against planned hours, significantly reducing the chance of over-payments.

“Progression in technology is facilitating a shift for cleaning providers to deliver better value by managing contracts and mobile workforces more efficiently,” says Mr Berenger.

Essity product manager Steve Palmer, says sustainable practices – just like cleaning and hygiene - should be part of our daily lives and is the responsibility of cleaning and hygiene manufacturers to ensure their products have sustainability “built in”.

“There are many ways in which this can be achieved and any responsible manufacturer will monitor the impact of their products from cradle to grave,” he continues.

In addition to developing products and services that improve businesses, sustainability should be beneficial for the planet and company’s bottom line, employees and stakeholders.

“All packaging for cleaning and hygiene products should be kept to a minimum to save space on pallets and reduce the number of deliveries required. This also helps to reduce transport emissions along with the amount of packaging that goes to landfill,” says Mr Palmer.

Recyclable packaging should be used wherever possible and chemical cleaning agents should be supplied in a concentrated format to reduce transport emissions, with products diluted at point of use.

Boxes and packs should be easy to carry, open and store to reduce the strain on the janitorial staff, while helping to fulfil manufacturers’ corporate social responsibility commitments.

All dispensers for paper and soap products should also be designed to minimise consumption and waste.

“This will not only reduce product costs and maintenance checks, it will also mean fewer deliveries, cutting down on fuel use and emissions. Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility, but it also makes sound economic sense for every industry,” Mr Palmer concludes.

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