How to Create a Sustainable Cleaning Program for Your Business
While having and maintaining a clean and hygienic workplace is vital for your company, have you ever thought about the implications your cleaning company and cleaning may have on the environment? Research shows that cleaning products are a significant source of pollution. This can then also create respiratory problems such as heart and lung diseases. We believe it is essential for the cleaning industry to adopt sustainable cleaning within their business practices to reduce the ongoing risks of excessive waste and pollution.
In this blog post, we will explain how important it is for your company to create a sustainable cleaning program, discuss the many benefits it will provide and how this can be accomplished. By the end of this blog post, you will have a clear understanding on how to create a sustainable cleaning program and why it is so important to implement these practices in your cleaning company.
What is a Sustainable Cleaning Program, and Why Does it Matter?
A sustainable cleaning program is a plan that summarises what your company can do in terms of ensuring that it is following sustainable practices. Some basic elements include mitigating the impact of waste, pollution and reducing Co2 emissions. Not only can having a sustainable cleaning program help the environment, a company’s financials, but most importantly, it can positively impact your cleaners’ health and safety. According to a Harvard study, employees in a greener environment performed better than in traditional workplaces.
A basic example of areas where a cleaning program can benefit are:
- Staffing and training
- Infrastructure and supplies (this bit is about products)
- Policies and procedures
- Monitoring, feedback and auditing.
Not only does adopting a sustainable cleaning program actively benefit the environment and reduce the impact on the planet, but it is also reported that UK-based consumers are more ecologically minded than ever. Nearly 9 in 10 customers have purchased more eco-friendly products in the past 5 years and it looks like this trend is continuing to grow.
In short, a sustainable cleaning program aids a company in the environmental, health and safety, financial and staffing impacts of your cleaning company.
How to create a sustainable cleaning program
Now that we know what a sustainable cleaning program is, the benefits for your business, and why it matters considerably, we will discuss how you can create a sustainable cleaning program.
Companies should start with realistic goals with timelines that can be implemented gradually. A ‘quick win’ for many commercial cleaners is rationalising their existing product ranges to alternative eco-friendly products such as BioHygiene and soluCLEAN.
Again, these goals should be realistic and calculated with good communication within your company so that your cleaners and everyone involved understand these goals. For example, setting a milestone such as reducing plastic waste by 20% within the next two years.
Below, we will list a multitude of goals and ideas to begin your sustainable cleaning program.
Moving over to eco-friendly products
Single-use plastics are one of the most significant threats to the environment today as these plastics do not biodegrade but also pollute the habitat and harm wildlife. One of the biggest changes that you can implement to create a more sustainable business is replacing harsher chemical products with eco-friendly products. Recently, there has been an industry push for more eco-friendly chemical products and customers also want to purchase more eco-friendly products, as reported by multiple sources. By replacing your conventional cleaning products with eco-friendly alternatives, you can reduce the number of harmful chemicals that can damage the ecosystem and deliver better value, as they are typically much more concentrated.
One way of establishing sustainability within your business is acquiring certifications to demonstrate the milestones and goals you have completed and plan to complete soon. These certifications can be displayed to customers through your website and social media channels. These accredited companies can also help you assess your waste and Co2 emission outpost. Sustainable certifications include Planet Mark and B Corp.
Perform operations assessments
Performing operations assessments are critical steps in implementing a sustainable program. They teach you where your largest emitters are and guide you on how to improve them. If you wanted to get a detailed overview of where you stand and how you can reduce your impact, Normative are the industry-leaders in reporting. They also have a free system for SME’s that you can sign up to here.
You can also use accredited certifications such as Planet Mark to help you assess your data if you don’t want to do it alone. They will then report it back to you. Some of the data that can be assessed includes:
- Electricity (Power)
- Transport (Vehicles)
- Waste (General Waste)
- Water Usage
- Paper Usage
Communicate and train employees
It is best practice to let your employees and colleagues know that you will be creating a sustainable program and keeping everyone up to date in regard to the goals and milestones that you wish to put in place and how the employees can actively help with this. With this, you will be able to let your employees know steps that can be taken to further improve sustainability and further your goals.
Many online training platforms now offer courses and refreshers on sustainability and environmental best practices. Alternatively, there are an abundance of free resources online for you to create your own training program.
Commit to renewable energy where possible
Reducing the consumption of your gas and electricity within your operations is another important step to becoming a sustainable company. Using companies such as ENGIE, you can take steps to source your power to renewable sources.
On your environmental journey, you will hear the ‘4 R’s’ regularly. This is a framework used by thousands of training bodies and companies world-wide and stands for Reducing, Reusing, Recycling and Recovering. They are intended to be followed in that order as this is the most sustainable method of working.
- Reduce – reduce waste, emissions, output on the environment.
- Reuse – If you can’t reduce, can you reuse it? Does it need to be recycled or thrown out?
- Recycle – if you can’t reduce the waste, or reuse it, can you recycle it?
- Recover – Recovering is the process of giving a value to a material believed to be waste. The best example of recovering is composting.
According to the WWF, deforestation is the cause of around 10% of global warming. Encouraging your employees to reduce paper-usage and replacing paper-based systems with digital systems is another crucial step in creating a sustainable cleaning program.
Recycle where possible
The British Cleaning Council has reported that waste accounts for a quarter of the entire cleaning industry and grew 3.4% in the year to February 2021. For example, instead of getting rid of old product boxes, your company can reuse and re-package the cardboard product boxes for further orders.
If you are a business that delivers products around the country, one controllable impact you can help with is fuel usage. Investing in hybrid or electric vehicles for your fleet can easily reduce your Co2 emissions and further your goals for your sustainable cleaning program.
Following these goals will give you a great place to start your sustainable cleaning program within your company. Not only will you help the environment but also your customers that want to see more eco-friendly practices put into play.
Want some more ideas on creating your sustainable cleaning program? Read how Wessex Cleaning Equipment commits to sustainability here.