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Sustainable Cleaning Sponsor


Cleaning without chemicals – now that is sustainable!


By André G. Krell, General Manager of Activeion (Europe) GmbH.


The concept of sustainability in cleaning has moved on a lot in the last year or so as people with hard commercial targets and budgets to meet have begun to accept that green attitudes to maintaining premises can actually contribute to profits, rather than increasing costs. Contract cleaners’ customers, with the credibility of their green strategies to maintain, applaud their contractors’ contributions when they use fewer chemicals, discard less packaging and reduce the potential risk to staff from toxic ingredients in many cleaning products.


Contract cleaning companies themselves are beginning to recognise that promoting their own green attitudes and credentials encourages potential customers to choose them over other less environmentally active contractors. They can actually gain new business by being green.


The throwaway hazard A great deal of reported environmental harm arising from cleaning has, in the past, come from the disposing of potentially harmful liquid chemicals into drains, or from discarding chemically contaminated materials into landfill. In the USA, a study demonstrated that a single school caretaker used 194 pounds (88 kilograms) of chemical cleaning materials each year. At that rate, all UK schools together (for example) would be using and discarding over 35,000 tonnes of cleaning chemicals every year. When you consider that some 30% of chemical cleaners used in schools can cause human health or environmental problems that represents a massive and largely unnecessary risk to human health.


No new figures for school cleaners’ green cleaning seem yet to be available, but if increasing understanding of the benefits of green cleaning has made substantial inroads into the volume of cleaning chemicals used in schools and hospitals, where, above all places, threats to health should be eliminated, real progress will have been made.


Read the labels Chemical cleaning products’ labels carry health warnings, because, in most cases, their ingredients can cause harm to human beings and animals or cause or exacerbate disease. Ensuring that everybody who uses and disposes cleaning chemicals reads and understands


the health warnings on labels is vital.


As an example, exposure of expectant mothers to


cleaning chemicals results in


a 41% increase in the risk of asthma developing in children by the age of seven, and as much as 12% of work-related asthma can be linked to exposure to cleaning products. A report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) estimates that


SUSTAINABLE CLEANING 56 | TOMORROW’S CLEANING YEARBOOK 2011/2012 | The future of our cleaning industry


there are 74,000 work-related deaths in EU countries each year linked to hazardous substances encountered in the workplace – meaning that ten times more people die from dangerous substances than from workplace accidents.


Not the whole answer but… Eliminating chemicals from cleaning can greatly reduce the amount of chemicals discarded to the environment, and chemical- free cleaning has the potential to prevent a great deal of asthma and other respiratory, allergic and endocrine system disease. Obviously, the Activeion ionator EXP™ (www.activeion.co.uk) is not the whole answer, and eliminates chemical cleaning only from work surfaces, bathroom fittings, lavatories, mirrors, kitchen appliances, paintwork and other modest areas. But it is a start – and it shows that more investment in research and development to eliminate chemical cleaning is needed if sustainability in cleaning is to be fully achieved.


For more information, contact Activeion (Europe) GmbH, on +41 22 533 00 30 or at www.activeion.com


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