Cleaning Sustainability During Covid-19

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DIV22/01

Businesses large and small rushed to introduce additional and stricter cleaning and hygiene processes during the Covid-19 pandemic. The overriding requirement has been to protect customers and staff while also providing additional reassurance by cleaning more frequently and more visibly. Ready-to-use products have offered an excellent solution to the immediate challenge. But those same businesses want to operate sustainably and control their costs. No matter how long the current emergency lasts professional ultra-concentrate formulations can help them meet these requirements.

Ready-to-use products can be ideal for temporary use and occasional tasks: they are convenient, easy to introduce, and readily available. This in part explains why businesses have used them during the pandemic. But costs can mount up in the long run and especially when they are used frequently.

Businesses with established cleaning procedures often turn instead to ultra-concentrated products in conjunction with dosing or dilution equipment. Cleaning solutions are prepared accurately and consistently on-site by adding water to a reusable spray bottle, wash bucket or sink. The cost of each is much less than using ready-to-use products. For example, a spray bottle of surface cleaner prepared this way might cost tens of pence while the same size ready-to-use equivalent could easily be two or three pounds.

Cleaning teams can quickly, easily, and economically prepare solutions for equipment such as spray and toilet bottles, sinks, buckets, or cleaning machines. The result is safe, simple, and consistent high-performance cleaning while minimising wastage, packaging, and chemical miles.

One of the main reasons ultra concentrates deliver reduced cost in use is that solutions are prepared at the optimum dilution for superior and consistent performance. This reduces the need for repeat cleaning which cuts wasted time, delivering an immediate productivity and efficiency gain. Considering the product contributes far less to the overall cost than the person doing the cleaning it makes sense to use products that maximise performance and productivity. 

Ultra concentrates also reduce the amount of product wastage because, unlike old-fashioned “pour-and-glug”, there is no guesswork involved in preparing solutions. Costs are reduced and predictable.

Another saving is made with packaging because water is added at the point of use, rather than the place of manufacture. One pack of ultra-concentrate can contain enough product to make the same amount of solution as dozens or hundreds of comparable bulk or ready-to-use products.

A business using 100 cases of six 750ml single-use spray bottles could reduce plastic waste by up to 125.6kg (99.6% reduction) and up to 26.6kg less cardboard (98.9% reduction) by switching to Diversey’s ultra concentrates and re-usable bottles. Changes like these also reduce supply chain burdens because fewer cases need to be bought, transported and stored to support any given operation. Transportation costs can be up to 20 times less and warehouse and on-site storage requirements up to 22 times lower. Waste management and recycling costs are also reduced because there is less packaging to handle.

Investment is required with any dosing or dilution system. This can include the cost of the equipment and training staff. However, this investment is repaid by the savings made with lower cost-in-use, reduced wastage, and improvements in consistency that save time and money. Reputable suppliers will offer detailed projections to show how and when their products return on the investment. It is often much quicker than businesses expect.

Any change of product also presents the opportunity to use a new and – hopefully - better formulation with sustainability benefits. The most obvious benefit can come from simply adopting formulations containing more sustainable ingredients. There are numerous sustainability accreditations including the EU Ecolabel, Nordic Swan, and AISE Chartermark that are applied to cleaning products. Products with these accreditations have undergone rigorous evaluation to ensure they meet a variety of sustainability criteria.

Another way to make a quick sustainability gain is to switch to formulations that work at lower temperatures. These save on gas or electricity costs associated with heating water. Switching to a lower temperature laundry product, for example, can save around 35% on water heating costs, consume 34% less water and cut wash time by almost 20% - all excellent sustainability gains. Any savings made will go straight to the bottom line.

Further sustainability benefits arise from replacing two or more products with multipurpose formulations. This saves on procurement costs and reduces supply chain complexity because fewer different items are sourced, transported, and stored. Cleaning processes are generally simpler because one product is used instead of two or more. That often leads to higher compliance levels, improved standards, and better results. Training burdens are also reduced because staff need to learn about fewer different products. Gains in these areas can be more difficult to quantify but the long-term benefits are nevertheless real and, with support from suppliers, they can be predicted and measured.

Ready-to-use products have offered an excellent solution to the immediate challenge of providing additional infection prevention measures during the pandemic. In the longer term, solutions based on professional ultra-concentrate formulations and accurate dosing and dilution equipment can offer a number of sustainability benefits.