Mean to be green

Truvox International's Gordon McVean sets out five areas where environmental responsibility is about good housekeeping.

Going green is more likely to be sustainable when it makes hard business sense. Gordon McVean, international sales and marketing director of Truvox International, sets out five areas where environmental responsibility is about good housekeeping.

Green cleaning means different things to different people. As a manufacturer of a wide range of cleaning equipment for a diverse client base, Truvox International’s take on the topic is very much informed by what our customers tell us, as well as by advances in cleaning technology.

It’s commendable for companies to do the right thing, but it makes business sense to be more sustainable too. We believe the planet, people and profit can all benefit. Taking an environmentally responsible stance in the following five areas is largely a matter of good housekeeping.

Whole life

Every piece of flooring is an asset. Get the maintenance right and it will not only look good. It will last longer too, giving a better return on investment over its whole life. Accelerated wear or damage leads to premature replacement, and the consequent need for disposal; recycling is often not feasible.

A holistic view of cleaning and maintenance avoids this waste. Simple measures, like effective matting at all entrances, save on wear and tear within a building. An annual cleaning plan should provide for periodic deep cleans of carpets – encapsulation removes the embedded soils vacuuming cannot reach, restoring colour and texture. Similarly, on hard floors, stripping and re-sealing in line with manufacturer’s instructions will extend their life.

Water saving

Water is another precious resource that must be husbanded. Great strides have been made in reducing the volumes consumed in cleaning – from ‘dry’ steam cleaning to scrubber dryers. The myth that mopping is economical in terms of cost and consumption of water and chemicals (see below) persists. But again, a holistic view of payroll, professionalism and performance debunks it. An efficient scrubber dryer can wash, scrub and dry floors in one pass, using about 30 per cent less water, depending on the design and brush technology.

Chemical dependency

Some cleaning managers and building users may still believe that the pungent smell of disinfectant is a prerequisite for hygienically clean floors. Over-use of chemicals, often through inadequate dilution, is a common problem. Machines that use less water will be more sparing with chemicals too. Also, the truth is that ‘green’ cleaning solutions that are non-toxic to the environment can do an effective job in most applications – provided the right cleaning materials and methods are used. In healthcare, for example, taurine-based products may be specified. A machine that agitates floor surfaces sufficiently is essential, especially on safety flooring, and cylindrical brush technology comes into its own here.

Green by design

As manufacturers, we have a duty and an incentive to design and produce products that have a lower carbon footprint. Lighter materials, recyclable components and emerging technologies can play a part. Batteries have seen some of the most notable advances in recent years, particularly with the increased efficiency and flexibility of lithium ion cells. Weighing the relative environmental merits of cabled and cordless models is complicated, but there can be no doubt that energy efficiency is worthwhile. National standards can help drive energy saving, so look for high ratings.

Overall efficiency

Efficiency is the handmaiden of environmentalism. Not just because it conserves energy and natural resources, but also consumables and other man-made materials that have a carbon footprint and deplete resources. Reconditioning machines can give these materials a further lease of life. But there comes a time when older equipment has to be retired. A false economy in a cleaning budget tends to have negative environmental impacts as well. For example, a contractor running an old fleet of tub vacs in a large office complex will save on maintenance, spares, downtime and energy usage by switching to a modern wide-area vac. Higher-grade dust filtration will also improve indoor air quality.

A leaner cleaning regime using meaner machines will be greener too.

This first appeared in the September/October issue of INCLEAN Australia magazine.

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