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Making recycling work

More and more companies are looking to improve recycling at work, and cleaning firms need to support them. Cleanology takes things a step further, explains Dominic Pooniah, CEO of Cleanology, by actively encouraging clients to recycle, and training staff to manage systems effectively

Cleaning is an art and yet, behind the scenes, it also involves an increasingly high level of science. Just look at recycling. Years ago, we were lucky to have paper recycling in workplaces; these days advances in technology and collections means everything from cans and plastic to food can be recycled. However, to make it work requires expert planning and buy in from cleaning staff.

In the modern world, there is almost nothing that cannot be recycled. At Cleanology, the core recycling services are paper, plastic, cans, glass and food, but the company also operates a policy of zero waste to landfill, which means that even residual waste that cannot be recycled will be sent for energy recovery rather than landfill. For businesses which follow the waste hierarchy, this is critical. Once items have been reused or recycled, recovery is the next best option.

Ponniah explained: “Increasingly, customers ask for recycling. However, where they do not stipulate, we always try to encourage them, and they are usually pleasantly surprised – aside from the environmental advantages, our recycling system also brings a significant cost benefit.”

A common complaint in the industry is that cleaning operatives – who may be temporary staff – do not uphold recycling systems. Once building staff see that recycling is being contaminated, the system can quickly go downhill, so it is very important, that all members of staff are trained to a high level. At Cleanology, cleaners are trained to manage the bin system, and also to navigate the specific requirements of each client and building. Where operatives encounter contamination in bins, such as excessive drinks liquid placed in a bin, they report it to a manager, who flags it up to the client.

Recycling needs to be simple, so Cleanology has introduced a two-bin system. One bin holds a mixed recycling stream; the other carries general waste. The most effective placing for these is in ‘hub’ areas. Research shows that desk bins encourage the generation of waste, while cleaners are all too familiar with the appearance of cups filled with liquids. For this reason, the use of desk bins is discouraged.

Ponniah added: “Staff at one site we serviced were very attached to their personal bins. However, once the company moved offices, we set up our two-bin system in the hub areas, and it was accepted immediately.”

Choosing a waste contractor can be tricky. A provider has to meet operational needs at a cost-effective price. It must also pass the supplier vetting process and adhere to strict policies. Once the contract is in place, it can be useful to conduct site visits and spot checks to ensure continued service delivery.

Ponniah concluded: “The UK has made great strides in recent years, and many companies are seeing greater environmental stewardship as an imperative. Cleaning and waste management go hand in hand and, as cleaning partners, we have an enormous opportunity – and duty – to drive change.”


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