Why Reducing Consumption, Waste and Pollution is So Important
The amount of consumption, waste and pollution tied to commercial facilities is immense. Commercial buildings use up one-fifth of energy in the U.S., and roughly 30% of that is wasted via maintaining temperature controls and other factors. Businesses are also contributing to the growing plastic pollution and climate crises. Around 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans on an annual basis – over the years, that total has reached a collective 150 million tons of waste in marine environments today.
Unfortunately, the amount of waste being sent to landfills has only increased over the last 18 months due to the demand of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against virus transmission and enhance safety while cleaning. A study found some areas like Catalonia, Spain increased waste by 350% while China’s waste increased by 370%.
Even before the pandemic, manufacturing put a strain on our natural resources, including fresh water. For example, 650 gallons of water is required to make one new cotton t-shirt. This drastically cuts into the global freshwater supply, especially since Americans are limiting the lifecycle of their clothing items by over one-third in the last 15 years. At this rate, 47% of the water basins located in the United States may run dry due to unsustainable practices.
Owners and managers of commercial facilities have an obligation to help curb the consumption of resources, reduce the amount of waste their operations produce and limit pollution tied to both processes.
Four Cleaning Program Strategies that Support the Environment
While the impact of commercial facilities on our planet may seem overwhelming, there are ways that organizations can help the environment. For example, companies can showcase environmental stewardships through the way they approach commercial cleaning and facility maintenance. Best practices for enhancing sustainability through cleaning include:
- Assess the volume of cleaning chemicals your operation consumes. Conduct an audit to determine how much plastic waste your facility is generating as a result of incorporating ready-to-use solutions (like those in spray bottles) into your cleaning program. To combat this issue, consider switching to a concentrate that can be mixed with water on-site to create cleaning solutions. This not only reduces container waste, it cuts down on transportation costs and emissions that increase the level of greenhouse gases.
- Use cleaning tools made from recycled materials. When sourcing cleaning tools, look for trusted ecolabels that let you know if a product is made from sustainable materials or produced responsibly. The gold standard for ecolabels is Green Seal, a non-profit with a vigorous verification system to ensure products are safer and sustainable. ABCO’s Natura Yarn Mops are made from 100% post-industrial textile blends, making it the first and only Green Seal approved mop. Additionally, seek out durable tools that won’t need to be replaced as often.
- Look for suppliers that use sustainable packaging. Packaging yields a lot of waste, especially given the volume of supplies that commercial cleaning programs use to maintain facilities. Companies such as Brik-Pak™ reduce the amount of cardboard and plastic used in packaging. At ABCO, we use Brik-Pak packaging to ship our mops, which is made from 70% less cardboard and plastic than regular packaging.
- Evaluate opportunities for composting and recycling. After an audit of its waste, the University of Texas at Austin found that nearly half (45%) of the waste from its restrooms could be composted. To help reduce the amount of waste that enters landfills and the ocean every year, consider ways that your cleaning and maintenance program can divert materials. Additionally, get building occupants involved by adding bins with how-to guides to encourage positive changes.
Small Changes Can Add Up
Making simple switches to your cleaning program is an easy way to reduce your environmental impact and highlight to stakeholders your dedication to protecting the planet. From assessing chemical usage to taking a deeper dive into responsible sourcing to implementing composting, there are numerous ways that commercial facilities can make a difference.
Learn more about ABCO products that support sustainability, like the Natura Yarn range of mops, brushes and brooms, at www.abcoproducts.com or contact us at (888) 694-2226.