Taking a traditional approach to sustainable cleaning
Sustainability. A word on the lips of so many industries and one that has evaded the janitorial sector for too long.
Every day, we are hit with new headlines – from school strikes to Extinction Rebellion protests and declarations of a ‘climate emergency’ from UK parliament. One of the most recent, and most compelling, reports released by the UN warns that our society is under threat from the loss of earth’s natural life with one million species on the brink of extinction – evidence compiled by hundreds of scientists from 15,000 academic studies and reports.
It’s an undeniable fact that our industry is a contributor to the issues that threaten the future of our environment and its habitats. The manufacturing of cleaning products impacts the environment in many ways, from plastic packaging to the materials and energy used to produce them.
What’s more, the chemicals components used in many everyday cleaning products can contaminate water sources and take years to break down. All this is contributing to the rising public health issues sustained when using chemical-heavy cleaning products, including serious respiratory concerns such as work-related asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Evidence from long term research studies has only further highlighted the huge responsibility that we, as an industry, have to create more sustainable products that reduce the impact on our environment and are not detrimental to the health of front-line janitorial staff.
More and more, our distributors and end users are looking to increase the range of sustainable cleaning products they use to help reduce their business’ impact on the environment. Using less chemicals, less plastic waste and more cost-effective solutions are all top priorities, but it can be difficult for organisations to know where to start.
As a business, it’s not just product innovation where we are looking to improve the sustainability of our products. We’ve also set our sights on our core offering of traditional cleaning products such as mops, brooms and cloths – products that are used day-in-day-out and which aren’t often associated with being typically ‘green’ – and feel it’s time to remind ourselves on the sustainable merits of traditionally produced products.
Take our floor and dish cloths for instance. These are manufactured using recycled shredded clothing, which means we are diverting textile waste from landfill and giving it another use.
Robert Scott’s mops, manufactured here in the UK at our mills in the north west of England, are also made using sustainably-sourced materials. The cotton used in the mop heads is sourced from waste produced during the spinning process, again giving a use for a material that would otherwise be disposed of.
For a more sustainable approach to traditional mopping we’ve designed the patented Refill socket mop. This means you only need to dispose of the mop yarn while re-using the plastic socket, which are also made here in the UK. The Refill socket can be cleaned and reused hundreds of times, and is colour coded to prevent cross-contamination, making mopping more hygienic, cost-effective and eco-friendly.
Some time ago, we decided to sell a range of wooden brushware and broom handles created from sustainable sources. The best way we felt we could achieve this was by supplying products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – an international non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting responsible forestry in areas that people and wildlife call home. These products include the likes of our wooden brooms and hand brushes, and to make it easier to identify which ones are certified look out for the FSC logo on the product listing on our website.
We would also encourage customers to start considering how they purchase the products they buy from us. Most of our manufactured lines are available in bulk packs which are not only cost-effective but halve the packaging required. Where we don’t currently have a bulk outer, we are working with customers on specific products to reduce packaging in every way we can.
We’re also continuing to develop our Toucan Eco bio-cleaning range – a sustainable and chemical-free disinfectant and cleaning solution for businesses, which removes the need for 80 per cent of chemical cleaning products while significantly reducing single use plastic bottles and cutting costs for a business.
This technology is trusted by a huge range of industries around the world. It protects the marine environment, disinfects drinking water, combats Legionella, and is used to safely disinfect and clean in everything from fish processing to carpet cleaning, salad packing to flower cultivation and dairy farming.
The applications are endless. And it’s being used more and more by the cleaning industry in restaurants, schools, nurseries, universities, government buildings, airports and offices.
Whether you’re looking to make small changes to your everyday cleaning processes with sustainably-sourced and manufactured traditional products, or you’re considering an overhaul of your cleaning system with innovation such as Toucan Eco, it’s important to remember that you are making steps to change. If we can all do something, no matter how big or small, we can work towards making a positive change for our industry and securing the future of this planet.