As climate change poses a serious risk to the planet and an increasing number of customers are becoming sustainability-minded, facility managers should re-examine how building operations impact the planet. Cleaning programs have the potential to harm the environment in multiple ways, including by producing an excess of single-use packaging and wasting water.
Cleaning with the Earth in Mind
Thankfully, cleaning effectively without harming the environment is entirely possible. Today, facilities can implement cleaning products and processes that help limit landfill waste, save water and emit less carbon.
Plastic waste is notorious for finding its way into the ocean and harming animals while also contributing to the warming of the planet. As the science becomes increasingly clear about the harm that plastic waste can cause the planet, some cities, such as Charleston, S.C., are working to enact bans on single-use plastic products.
Facility managers should consider how they can clean without relying on disposable bottles of chemicals. One option is an on-site generation system that creates effective cleaner and disinfectant in your facility and allows for the use of refillable bottles. This approach can enable up to a 95% reduction of daily-use chemicals and packaging.
Many cleaning products leave chemical residue that is visible on glass, plastic or metal surfaces. Removing these unsightly streaks requires rinsing, using additional water. There are cleaning solutions on the market, known as electrochemically-activated solutions, that leave little to no residue behind due to their chemical composition. This allows facilities to save water over time by spending less water rinsing.
- Protect your water supply.
By using green solutions that don’t contain harmful additives and are drain- and disposal-friendly, facilities can protect their water supplies over the long term.
- Replace harsh chemical cleaners.
A cleaning operation can accomplish a lot with just two green solutions, produced on site, on demand and in ready-to-use concentrations. It’s much easier to manage cleaning tasks with two bottles – one of cleaner and one of disinfectant – instead of four or more containers of different cleaning solutions.
A study from the Center for International Environmental Law shows that for the year 2019 alone, “the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.” Unfortunately, plastic production is projected to increase, which would further increase emissions. Therefore, facilities that avoid single-use plastics in their cleaning programs can therefore credibly claim that they are making a good-faith effort to lower carbon emissions.
On-site generation systems that create cleaning solutions to be used with reusable bottles eliminate the need to frequently transport products, which further contributes to emissions.
Keep Cleaning in Context
While a facility’s cleaning program is not the only area in which it can reduce its carbon footprint, it does provide a golden opportunity for buildings to do just that. Whether cleaning a school library or a major sports arena, facility managers should do their part to heed the worsening climate crisis by equipping cleaning professionals with solutions that help cut down unnecessary plastic waste, save water and reduce carbon emissions.