Here in the UK there is increasing pressure being placed on businesses of all sizes to become more eco-friendly, as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Whether it’s reducing energy use by switching off lights or asking staff not to print their emails to save paper, there are countless actions that a business can take to be more ‘green’, yet one that is considered less often is switching to environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
It’s a known fact that many types of cleaning products deposit potentially harmful chemicals into waste water. Most of these chemicals are removed at the water treatment works, but it’s inevitable that some of these chemicals will remain when the water is pumped back into rivers, lakes and seas, polluting them and causing varying degrees of damage to flora and fauna that reside there.
For this reason, businesses should be at least considering using commercial cleaning products that are more environmentally-friendly, or even switching to entirely chemical-free cleaning innovations where it’s possible. And as the United Nations Environment Program’s World Environment Day takes place on June 5th, to encourage individuals and businesses across the world to become more environmentally aware and take positive steps to benefit the environment, there couldn’t be a better time to talk about cleaning products that have been developed with the environment in mind.
Eco-friendly cleaning chemicals
Thanks to REACH, the EU policy on cleaning products that came into force in 2006, all cleaning detergents are now biodegradable. However some take more time to break down than others, and are still very much capable of causing problems; one of the main culprits for water pollution is phosphates, which are found in laundry detergents and several other types of cleaners and can cause excessive ‘algae blooms’, that slowly suffocate marine life as they grow.
Environmentally-friendly cleaning and sanitising products have none, or greatly reduced levels of these potentially damaging chemicals, instead using ingredients that are more natural yet no less effective. For example, Ecoforce disinfectant contains lactic acid, a naturally-occurring biocide that is a capable and thorough alternative to the petrochemical-based antibacterial agents found in many other cleaning products. And InnuScience non-toxic biological cleaners use enzymes harvested from micro-organisms that are highly active at low temperatures in order to achieve an effective deep clean, especially when tackling proteins, fats, and starches.
It’s also possible to identify cleaning products that are better for the environment by looking for their EU ‘Ecolabel’. To be awarded the Ecolabel a cleaning product manufacturer must volunteer their products to the EU for assessment by an independent expert, and the product must meet stringent criteria not only on its environmental impact but on sustainability in its manufacture process and disposal.
Greenline Plus Mild Detergent, Washroom Cleaner, and Glass & Stainless Steel Cleaner are all examples from the Greenline Plus cleaning products range that bear the Ecolabel, and Deb, Kimberly-Clark, Pristine, and Tork have a selection of Ecolabel-certified industrial and washroom skin care products so you can reduce the quantity of potentially environmentally harmful chemicals your business consumes through daily handwashing.
Cleaning without chemicals altogether
An article published on The Guardian website in 2014 identified that ‘chemical-free’ cleaning was fast-growing as a trend in the commercial sector. Of course, the term ‘chemical-free’ is something of a misnomer as even water is a chemical, but in the world of marketing it refers to cleaning products that don’t require any additional agents or detergents.
But chemical-free cleaning is certainly nothing new; microfibre cloths have been in widespread use for years, even in hospitals and other healthcare environments. Put simply, dirt, dust, grease and even bacteria is drawn into the microfibre cloths using very fine fibres and the static charge that they create. The debris and germs are released from the cloths when they are machine washed and the static charge is broken, and as many commercial microfibre cloths can be laundered hundreds of times, they’re extremely cost-effective too.
Then there’s powerful steam-cleaning technology, which deep-cleans, sanitises and even deodorises surfaces using nothing more than just high-temperature water vapour. Anything from floors to curtains can be cleaned using a commercial steam-cleaner, making it one of the most versatile ‘green’ cleaning products widely available on the market.
So will you make the switch to environmentally-friendly cleaning products?
With so much choice now available in eco-friendly commercial cleaning products, it’s so simple to swap your current cleaning products for those that are better for the environment. However you will of course need to ensure that the cleaning product you choose is fit for the intended purpose, particularly if you work in an environment where hygiene is of a particular concern.
Many environmentally-conscious cleaning products are also still marketed as being ‘premium’ options, with prices that reflect this, though of course this isn’t always the case. At Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies we have a great selection of affordable cleaning products that have been designed to be better for the environment, including products bearing the Ecolabel, so you can make a more eco-friendly choice that’s healthy for your janitorial services budget too.
Do you use commercial cleaning products that are more environmentally-friendly? Tell us which products you use, or which ones you plan to try, by leaving us a comment below.