The issue of sustainability has never been higher up on the corporate agenda. With businesses across the supply chain increasingly demanding evidence of ‘green credentials’ from their suppliers, organisations which do not adopt a proactive approach to mitigating their environmental impact can significantly damage their brand’s reputation.
With environmental issues frequently coming under the spotlight, simply complying with regulations is no longer enough.
While green cleaning products have historically proven expensive and difficult to source, increased demand for sustainable chemicals and equipment in recent years has improved accessibility, affordability and driven technological developments. With these improvements in mind, there is no longer any excuse for businesses not to deliver on their eco-friendly responsibilities.
Reviewing internal processes is often the first step for organisations looking to meet environmental targets however, it is important not to forget the crucial role supplier relationships play. When choosing procurement partners, businesses should consider not only which suppliers offer green products but also the range of available products and their affordability.
The cleaning industry is recognising that innovation is central to driving sustainability and product developments across the board and is allowing access to a greater number of eco-friendly products than ever before.
Take microfibre cloths as an example; improvements in this area are helping cleaning professionals better engage with the green agenda, allowing smaller amounts of chemicals and water to be used to achieve a similar standard of cleaning.
However, with so many products on offer, cutting through the ‘eco jargon’ and finding the right one can sometimes be a challenge. Environmental labelling can often be surprisingly cryptic and it is worth businesses opting for suppliers who are able to provide clear explanations for these, in order to make a truly informed choice.
While in previous years the majority of businesses relied solely on ready-to-use chemicals, ‘smart dosing’ now offers many organisations the opportunity to reduce wastage as well as providing cost-saving opportunities.
In contrast to the manual method of diluting chemicals, automatic dispensers provide cleaning professionals with an exact, highly-controlled amount of concentrate prior to dilution. This reduces the amount of chemical used for each cleaning task, providing better value-for-money whilst ultimately reducing pressure on supply chains through lower amounts of packaging and less frequent deliveries.
Newer models of dispensers no longer need to be plumbed in, making them highly portable, and allowing easy transportation around the workplace. Moreover, the fact that these systems are also fully sealed rather than requiring bottles of chemicals to be constantly opened and closed means that they have obvious health and safety benefits.
When looking for ways to green-up cleaning processes, it is important to remember that improving sustainability is not simply a case of choosing the right products and processes. A business’ carbon footprint has become one of the most commonly-used measurements of its overall eco credentials, therefore it is vital that organisations give due consideration to how cleaning products are procured.
Through supply chain consolidation, cleaning professionals not only realise the environmental benefits of fewer deliveries but also save money by reducing delivery costs of each shipment. Other benefits of better streamlined supply chains include a reduction in the time needed for organisations to monitor and track orders and the opportunity to build strong and trusting relationships with supply partners. Over time, this could well help businesses to drive further value by leveraging more favourable deals with suppliers.
With the digital revolution meaning that supply chains are now more transparent and easier to monitor than ever, it is simply no longer enough for businesses to focus sustainability efforts internally. The activities of suppliers can have an important impact on a business’ overall output, therefore initial talks with sellers should stress their individual responsibility to support corporate environmental targets and regular checks should be high on the agenda.
It is impossible not to be aware of the urgent need for businesses across the world to take responsibility for their environmental impact. Cleaning manufacturers are increasingly addressing this heightened demand by offering a wider range of affordable green products, and many suppliers are allowing businesses to reduce their carbon footprint through consolidation. There has never been a better time to capitalise on the industry-wide push to ‘go green’, and the time is now for organisations to boost their eco credentials, reaping the rewards of cost savings along the way.
George Hand, Sales Manager for cleaning, hygiene and catering, Office Depot UK & Ireland.