Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Sustainable Operation: The Right Thing To Do

September 19, 2010

Editor''s note:

The following letter to the editor was received from Michael Schaffer, a senior executive with Tacony Corporation''s commercial floor care division, which manufactures equipment under the brands Tornado, CFR and Powr-Flite.

Schaffer presents the notion that the cleaning industry, which has long been reactionary in addressing challenges, is becoming more proactive in resource management.

This move towards drafting a plan of attack that positively affects profitability and environmental conservationism is helping industry professionals deliver superior results with fewer adverse aftereffects.

Dear Editor,

The fact that green cleaning products and procedures have now become mainstream in the professional cleaning industry serves as an example of what can be accomplished when an industry decides something is the right thing to do: Right for the environment and the bottom line.

And this is just the beginning. Our industry is now moving beyond a focus on "green cleaning" to products that also clean in a socially responsible manner.

This means becoming more sustainable — that is, ensuring that our natural resources will serve not only our present needs, but also the needs of future generations.

A good example of this is found in the carpet cleaning industry. Carpet extractors have historically used lots and lots of water.

However, we are now entering an era in which such an excessive use of water is simply no longer sustainable — nor is it socially responsible.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that from 1950 to 2000, while the U.S. population nearly doubled, public demand for water more than tripled.

The EPA also says that 36 states now anticipate local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013.

Obviously, as these shortages occur, using cleaning equipment that consumes so much water is going to come under greater scrutiny.

Cleaners will be in a difficult position, with customers still wanting their facilities thoroughly cleaned, but without using so much water.

Fortunately, there are options that can help cleaning become more sustainable, including:

  • Using interim carpet cleaning methods more frequently, avoiding heavy soil loads in carpeting that then require the need for restorative cleaning methods, which consume much more water

  • Paying closer attention to work or public areas and cleaning those areas more frequently, which can actually help minimize the transfer of soil from one area to another, reducing the cleaning needs of the entire facility

  • Using the newest, latest generation cleaning equipment, such as extractors that recycle the cleaning solution, which can result in consuming as little as 1/7 the water of conventional extractors, making them significantly more sustainable, reducing cleaning''s impact on the environment

  • Scheduling cleaning in a more planned, prioritized approach, which can save tremendous resources. Many facilities are cleaned on the same basis or frequency, despite the fact that executive or non-public areas might not need to be cleaned with the same method or frequency as public or work areas.

Our industry has done a good job of producing cleaning products and equipment that serve to reduce environmental impact.

It is encouraging to see the industry now begin to take that to the next level, with products that clean in a socially and resource responsible manner.