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Ask the Expert A. If your contract cleaners have advised

you that they use sustainable cleaning methods, then this means they operate in a way that protects the environment and the health of the people in it now and for the future.

Sustainability is a much used term and the cleaning industry is increasingly recognising its importance, but this should be backed up with evidence and information on what is being done to make services sustainable. Your contract cleaner should be happy to explain how they help the environment, and what they aim to do to continually improve their impact on the environment. This should be indicated within an environmental statement or policy.

Areas where your contract cleaner should be able to demonstrate sustainability include:

The products that they use Ask what products they use and how do these help protect the environment? At Peartree Cleaning Services, we strive to buy products and goods that do not directly damage the environment. Green cleaning techniques and products avoid the use of chemically-reactive and toxic cleaning products which can harm the environment, causing air and water pollution and damaging aquatic ecosystems when tipped down the drain. There is also evidence that chemically-reactive products can cause adverse health effects such as respiratory and dermatological problems and even neurological disorders and cancer.

Contractors need to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations (COSHH) regulations and REACH is a recent

European regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals.

Manufacturing process Sustainable cleaning can also describe the way cleaning products are manufactured, packaged and distributed. Does your contract cleaner buy goods that have as little packaging as possible? At Peartree Cleaning Services we endeavour to purchase goods, supplies and equipment manufactured with a high proportion of raw materials sourced from reprocessed waste.

Power efficiency Is your cleaning company efficient with water? For example, do they use scrubber dryers or other water efficient cleaning equipment? Are they using energy saving electrical products? Consider using a contract cleaner who is able to clean during working office hours, as this can also help reduce your energy consumption such as lighting usage.

Training and accreditation Check whether your contract cleaners have been awarded the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management certificate or any other relevant environmental accreditations? The ISO 14001:2004 certificate will demonstrate that they have identified and controlled the environmental impact of their activities, products or services, and that they strive to continually improve their environmental impact.

Waste Management The management of waste is a key component in a business' ability to maintain ISO14001

Q. Our contract cleaners have told us that they use sustainable cleaning methods, but what does this mean and how do I know if this is really true?

accreditation. Make sure your cleaning company has an effective policy for the collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal and monitoring of waste materials.

Review and make changes Sustainability should be much broader than using environmentally friendly chemicals. Environmentally responsible practices should be implemented across all day-to-day working processes, covering areas including conserving energy, fuel, water, paper, and other resources; reducing waste, re-using and recycling; and reducing emissions of air pollution and noise.

For example, we have introduced Hybrid Toyota vehicles to our fleet to reduce C0 emissions. Our paper products are 100% recyclable and pulp sourced from sustainable foresting and, at the end of 2010 we were the first company in the UK to use the CleanLink iPad application for quality monitoring, which has reduced the need for paperwork.

Don’t be afraid to make changes to implement sustainable working practices, and communicate the benefits to your staff to make sure everyone does their bit to improve the environment.

If you have a question for the expert, please email: Your question could be featured in the next issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning.

The future of our cleaning industry | TOMORROW’S CLEANING | 33 REGULAR

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