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Not going green? You're losing money and customers

Industry Article

10 March 2015

The idea of sustainability can be interpreted in many ways. Some refer to it as being environmentally conscious; others speak about carbon footprint and “going green”. It’s not uncommon to see companies implementing green initiatives such as tree planting or walk-to-work days as a means of “giving-back” to the environment. And while these are positive steps towards becoming environmentally aware, it seems that a lot of businesses are falling short at evaluating the impact of their daily business operations on resources.

It can be argued that the lack of clarity within the industry has left businesses misinformed about sustainable practices and how they can be implemented. In addition to this, many companies are questioning the price of sustainability and whether they will have to increase their rates to offset the costs of “going green”.

Undoubtedly, the big question on everybody’s lips is:

What is sustainability and how does it impact on my business?

To put it in layman’s terms, sustainability should be about improving your processes to enable you to continuously do something. It involves reducing waste and putting in place efforts to protect and efficiently use your company resources such as people and materials to ensure continued success. The states of all these factors combined directly contribute to your company’s Triple Bottom Line which we will investigate further in the article.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that sustainability is not a burden or an additional cost. In fact, becoming environmentally-friendly lowers costs because companies end up reducing the inputs they use. By minimising waste and protecting resources, you are investing in the long term viability of your own company.

Let’s take the professional hygiene industry as an example. Green chemistry is a hot topic and chemical usage is coming under increasing scrutiny. In addition to sourcing chemicals which use and produce fewer hazardous materials, companies should also take the manner in which they dose and dilute these products into consideration.

Over 30 years ago the hygiene industry recognised the need to improve its green credentials. Traditionally bulk cleaning products were shipped in large 15, 20 and 25litre drums made up of large volumes of water. To reduce shipping costs and carbon emissions associated with heavy freight loads, they began to transport chemicals in a concentrated form. By removing the water element, this meant that end-users were left to dilute their own chemicals, giving rise to today’s two most common chemical dilution formats; manual dilution (the glug-glug method) and chemical dispensing equipment.

Glug-glug is a method by which the operator manually dilutes a chemical at point of use, by pouring a certain amount of concentrated chemical into a spray bottle or other usable packaging format before adding water to the mix. 

However, the margin for error is high. Because of the apparent simplicity of the concept, companies tend to feel confident that they know the right process and quite often incorrectly presume that other operators, such as employees, know the precise dose to use. Failure to dose the correct amount of chemical ratio is a costly mistake. Overdosing increases chemical waste and is an inventory nightmare. It drives up the budget as stock is being misused, and it also means that businesses can’t accurately forecast their cleaning spend over a certain period of time. Worst still, misdosing can be a health hazard as it results in smeared dirt, sticky surfaces, and ultimately cross contamination.

So how do we ensure accurate dosing and dilution?

Accurate dilution can be achieved through the use of chemical dispensing systems.

The development of these systems has revolutionised the industry. Over the years, many professional hygiene equipment manufacturers have perfected their skills in providing precision proportioners which enable consistent dilution at point of use.

The two most common types available on the marketplace today are manual and venturi systems, both of which are available as part of Brightwell Dispensers’ ECOrange. Brightwell Dispensers’ ECOSHOT is a manual system dosing a specific volume or shot of concentrate into a spray bottle, bucket or sink. Their venturi system known as ECOMIX is connected to mains water which creates a vacuum and dilutes a pre-determined ratio of chemical into a final solution. The unique patented dilution ring allows for accurate dilution and is fully customisable depending on environment.

So now that we understand how sustainable practices can have a positive impact on operations, let’s examine how to apply its principles:

The Three P’s of Sustainability

At the start of the article, we briefly touched on the idea of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). For those who are not familiar with the term, it was first coined by John Elkington and has gone from industry buzzword to best practice. When we speak about TBL we are referring to a company’s social, environmental and financial performance. This measures not only profits, but also the impact of a company’s activities on stakeholders and the planet. Here we are trying to find a balance between sustaining human resources and the environment, while also sustaining the economics of the situation so that the company can sustain its operations to remain competitive and profitable thus enabling it to move forward.

A simple technique for measuring this is to follow the accounting framework, known as The Three P’s of Sustainability; People, Planet and Profit.

Again, we can apply this to the example of chemical dilution and dosing systems. While the equipment does require some initial layout, this expense is quickly recovered and justified through The Three P’s.

People: Brightwell Dispensers’ ECOrange improves health and safety standards as contact with chemical is reduced to the push of a button. Additional accessories such as lockable cabinets further help to eliminate risk of contact.

Planet: With one pouch of concentrated chemical being the equivalent of 75 ready-to-use spray bottles, diluting concentrate chemical at the point of use serves greatly to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning operations. Carbon emissions and packaging are lowered as a result. Moreover, precise dosing minimises waste by ensuring that only the exact amount of chemical required is used. 

Profit: By opting for concentrate, transport costs are lowered. Dispensing equipment decreases downtime associated with chemical related incidents, and contributes to more efficient inventory management and product usage which, in turn, reduces the amount of money that you spend on cleaning products and storage.

Consider the Customer

Customer retention is essential for the longevity of your business. There is growing acceptance among consumers that value is not only reflected in the price of the product, but also in the overall sustainable value proposition of the company and its product offering. If public opinion is shifting towards green, then your business should be too!

Your mission to become a more environmentally focussed business shouldn’t be considered a chore. Going green is more than an environmental or social reponsibility - it's the key element for any business that is looking to differentiate and grow their triple bottom line. Invest in the future of your business and the planet around you by evaluating your daily operations, from monitoring both internal and external stakeholder activity as well as ensuring that you are offering customers environmentally friendly products and services.


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