Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Spt-Oct 2015 Contents 24 INCLEAN September/October 2015
In the cleaning sector and the industries we serve, there
are various drivers motivating companies to adopt a more
sustainable approach to business. Cleaning contractors and in-house
cleaning teams can be ethical by being more effcient in their use of
chemicals, energy and equipment.
First, let’s consider what an environmentally responsible cleaning
regime should aim to achieve. The main objectives might include:
• Conserving resources such as water and materials, and
• Limiting carbon emissions, mainly from energy use
• Reducing the use of harsh cleaning agents
• Improving environmental health and indoor air quality
• Minimising noise and other pollution
• Using recyclable and reusable machine components
These (sometimes overlapping) objectives more often than not have
associated benefts for the business and its bottom line. While there
may sometimes be a premium to pay – e.g. on the price of a more
technically advanced machine compared with an older model – that
investment will almost invariably be recovered in reduced use of
consumables or energy, higher productivity and all-round effciency.
It is increased effciency that is the biggest driver of
Take as an example, cylindrical brush technology. Its application in
foor cleaning can reduce consumption of water and chemicals. This
‘low moisture foor care’ has other practical benefts. Using less water
means less energy is spent drying foors that are ready to be used in
minutes, making the machine ideal for busy facilities.
When selecting a scrubber dryer, ask about the machine’s scrubbing
depth. Deep scrubbing uses less water and a smaller quantity of
chemicals to remove grit and soil than shallow scrubbing. Machines
with cylindrical brushes exert greater pressure on foors, enabling
more effective cleaning of tile and grout areas to remove pathogens
and toxic soil.
Another technology that makes a surprisingly good case for
sustainable cleaning is steam. Many assume steam cleaning is a thirsty
technique. However, the latest generation of ‘dry steam’ cleaners
produce a high-temperature steam vapour that carries only about 6
The environmental and practical benefts don’t end there. In most
cases steam cleaners do not need detergents to produce high standards
of cleanliness. Steam cleaning not only removes dirt, grime and
grease from a variety of surfaces including grout lines, it sanitises as
well, without altering the original colours or texture.
In some cases it may be desirable to combine a detergent with steam to
accelerate the cleaning process. As a rule of thumb, users can still expect
to reduce their consumption of chemicals by about 80 to 90 percent.
In situations where bacterial contamination is of concern – such as
in kitchens and washrooms – the hygiene and sanitation benefts of
steam cleaning are signifcant.
From a business perspective, there is no compromise on productivity.
Whatever the equipment used, a responsible approach to chemical
dosing also cuts costs and benefts the environment. Cleaning
chemicals are a substantial part of any cleaning operation’s overhead.
Getting the dilution precisely right is also vital for sustainable cleaning.
Staff training is crucial. Educating employees on the importance
of correct use and application of chemicals is imperative. Training
should also cover the need to keep measuring vessels clean to
ensure chemical integrity. Mixing cleaning products could reduce
their effectiveness and even cause a chemical reaction producing
Consumption should be monitored to ensure bad habits do not
undermine effciencies achieved.
The environmental impact of chemicals should also be considered at
the procurement stage; look for products with:
• a pH no higher than 11.5
• phosphorus concentrations less than 0.5 percent
• a fashpoint above 66 degrees C
• less than 7 percent volatile organic compounds
• no known carcinogens, metals or aqueous ammonia.
When unsure of how to dispose of used chemical solutions
responsibly, users should always consult manufacturers’ instructions or
ask the local regulatory authority for advice.
A well-designed cleaning machine should have features built-in
to prevent the accidental dispersion of possibly harmful chemical
solutions. This protects both the machine’s operators and building users.
Vacuuming can also have positive and negative effects on indoor
air quality and the health of a building’s occupants. This is usually
achieved via fltration systems that trap dust and other contaminants,
together with advanced HEPA fltration systems.
Reducing energy consumption makes obvious business sense,
especially as energy prices continue rising. Clients too are increasingly
concerned about reducing the carbon footprint of their activities.
Buyers usually assess cleaning machines’ energy requirements by
comparing the wattage of their motors. But the assessment also needs
to factor in the machines’ output, by measuring the time taken to
clean a defned area to the required standard.
If a 1000-watt machine takes 15 minutes to achieve an acceptable
result and a 1500-watt machine takes 10 minutes, the energy
consumption is identical. However, the job takes a third less operator
time with the bigger machine, which means labour cost is lower. This is
why demonstrations are important, preferably for a standardised task.
It is also worth considering battery-powered units. Advances in
battery technology mean that these can be more energy effcient than
mains-powered models. They are also quieter, more fexible and safer
to operate in situations where a trailing cable poses a trip hazard. The
maintenance-free design of rechargeable gel batteries – which feature,
along with an on-board charger on the Columbus Battery Scrubber –
is another factor that can more than justify the investment.
In closing, a fnal word on training, which – as stated above – helps
ensure cleaning chemicals are used responsibly. We believe training
and support also have a vital role to play in promoting the cost-
effectiveness and effciency of your cleaning regime – as well as its
A cost-effective and environmentally-
friendly cleaning regime -- how it's done
Should you 'green' your cleaning regime or concentrate on the bottom line? There needn't be a trade-off between ethics
and cost-effectiveness, says John Parker, marketing director of Alphaclean.
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