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Keen to be green

Green cleaning has become one of the fastest growing trends in the industry today, and is becoming ever more central to business philosophies. Tomorrow’s Cleaning spoke to Mike Sullivan, Managing Director of GOJO Industries-Europe, who examines why this may be so.

Businesses are grappling with an ever-growing list of key issues within the global sustainability agenda, while thinking of creative ways to increase profit during a difficult economic climate.

General awareness of this agenda is consistently rising, but confusion still shrouds the issue. While environmental impact is the most commonly thought of strand of sustainability, social and economic factors are often overlooked.

Suppliers are endeavouring to develop the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own requirements. We are having to push our sustainable agendas to differentiate ourselves from one another, and in doing so recognise that it’s the right course of action for our buyers, and by extension, consumers.

Key players in the industry are being motivated to become more eco-aware because our stakeholders expect us to understand and address issues that are relevant to them. An increasing number of buyers are questioning the sustainable agenda of their suppliers, recognising that their own environmental image is affected by the green credentials of their suppliers. Therefore contract choices are significantly impacted by how green or environmentally damaging a company’s portfolio is.

The fact that suppliers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact their policies can have on their corporate image means they are starting to look inward to implement

creative strategies to fulfil environmental needs. This is achieved in a number of ways, such as energy efficiency, limiting product waste and toxicity, and innovative product design. Through setting and recognising sustainable processes from the outset, suppliers sit at the top of the sustainability chain, passing down green products, principles and methods of working.

Procurement is seen as the chief culprit and target of environmental damage. Carbon emissions associated with the extraction, processing, assembly, packaging, transport, storage and handling of materials all play their part in this. To be truly sustainable, we have to consider all stages of a products life-cycle, from product design, through manufacture, to use and disposal. This has two benefits, which are both as important as each other, firstly damaging impacts on the environment are reduced, and secondly the health and well-being of future generations is protected. An important by-product of this is greater economic strength and prosperity for suppliers and for our stakeholders.

Sustainability is now increasingly being seen in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), where companies should be accountable for the impact on society and the environment. On the social side, this includes wider issues such as the working conditions of staff, who could be seen as a company’s most important renewable resource and strongest asset.

In the cleaning industry, daytime hours provide staff with a greater flexibility to balance their

work and life commitments, in turn raising staff morale. Furthermore, daytime cleaning minimises energy use in buildings by enabling it to be closed down at night. The reduction of waste and recycling is a key task to be taught to staff – that is to say, comprehensive training and evaluation should be on offer, and programmes should be implemented that reward star performers. Many companies now implement their own waste management programmes, but if that company puts all the sustainable systems in place and a member of staff does not play their part in it from the outset, the whole process fails.

In recognising how much of an impact high ethical standards can have on the planet and company profit, the race is on for firms to get one step ahead of their sustainable competitors. Consequently, the green message is being passed on from suppliers to a product’s end user at a faster rate than ever before, meaning the values become inherent within the communities in which we work, for stakeholders, and for the next generation of business leaders. With a multitude of environmental, social and economic benefits, it is plain to see why an increasing number of companies are exceptionally keen to keep their businesses green.

48 | TOMORROW’S CLEANING | The future of our cleaning industry SUSTAINABLE CLEANING

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