Over a prolonged period, people in facility management have been involved in a movement to move away from using conventional cleaning chemicals. Many of the chemicals used to clean and sanitize facilities contain volatile organic compounds, which affect the environment inside and outside as well. Additionally, some commercial cleaning products are deemed hazardous, which creates issues while handling, storing or disposing off. Using too strong a cleaning solution can damage a surface such as a floor or counter, leave a sticky residue on a surface and cause rapid resoiling. This is when the residue actually acts as a magnet, attracting more soils to a just-cleaned surface and significantly reducing cleaning effectiveness.
Green cleaning programs within facility management strive to move away from using harmful chemicals and move toward using products that are safer for building occupants and the environment.
Vinay R Deshmukh, CEO, Forbes Facility; Deepak Shanbhag, Chief Operating Officer, Property Solutions (India) Pvt Ltd and B.S. Shetty, CMD, Durga Facility management Services Pvt Ltd share their viewpoints on the use of Green Chemicals in the cleaning industry.
How open are you towards Green Chemicals?
Deshmukh: We are closed to use of any chemical that is not green. We are grateful to all our customers for partnering with us towards this drive.
Shanbhag: PSIPL, as an organization is committed to environmental conservation and sustainability. We strongly believe in advocating the principles of a cleaner environment and this is clearly reflected in the way in which we conduct our daily business. Since the concept of ‘Green’ in ‘Green Chemicals’ is an evolving perception, the weighing metrics for certifying a chemical ‘Green’ is just not limited to its composition (absence of corrosive phosphates and ethanolamines (ETA) but has larger dynamics attached to it in terms of the manufacturing processes, safety aspects, the ease of handling, packaging, transportation and storage.
-Vinay R Deshmukh
While in India the concept of ‘Green’ is slowly but surely gaining momentum, the ‘seemingly high initial’ cost of such products is a major hurdle in getting service providers and clients accede and adapt to this change. This change is inevitable, and it is just a matter of time by when the adoption of these new age products will be mandatory and obligatory.
Shetty: Green chemicals are the new tendency which is going to be in place for the betterment of the environmental systems. In commercial establishments like hospitals and airports, this green concept is going to be used well.
Are you agreeable to the use of Green Chemicals in cleaning?
Deshmukh: These chemicals are the way of life and they help us preserve the future. They would ensure the environment is not damaged and overloaded with the effects and after-effects of the use of chemicals. We all know that the chemicals is a must and an essential component to cleaning. However, out of all the four components – chemical, time, temperature and friction, this is the only component that is not transitory. It is here to stay and unless provided to change the form of it, would lead to a lot more than the already raging global warming. Ultimately, our planet is based on hydrocarbons and playing with any chemicals would or might have irreversible effects on the environment.
The modern-day science has progressed to be more responsible, testing the time effects and also improving the efficiency. This helps reduce the cost of these chemicals as well as to bring down the quantities used.
The major challenge we face is in housekeeping is the usage of acidic chemicals, which are used for descaling the restrooms and which are the highrisk areas.
Shanbhag: Yes. We are in complete agreement on the use and significance of Green chemicals. However, the common misconception is that these chemicals are expensive, ineffective and too complicated to use. However, our studies and discussions in this direction have revealed that:
• Green chemicals seem comparatively costlier in the initial stages, but their usage over a period of time has shown a reduction in price by approximately by 17% thus higher ROI, along with increased employee productivity and satisfaction.
• These chemicals are more effective.
• Easy to use, Monitor, Maintain and Train.
Shetty: Yes. It is a more eco-friendly usable technique and as per the wastage, it would be very good to handle other environmental benefits. Cost wise it would be competitive with other chemicals. It also contributes to the development of ‘Green trends’.
What are the challenges that you face while using Green Chemicals?
Deshmukh: If we decide, we can overcome any and every challenge that might face us. We have international protocols of the green chemicals and testing facilities available. However, the basic rule should be the declaration from competent authorities and comparison of the MSDS that are available on the net as well. this, for anyone inclined to decide, would help identify there and what to use.
The more customers get converted using green chemicals, the better is the economy of scale to bring down the prices and to improve the competition. The logistics would also be easier and would pave way of far reaching as well as on time deliveries. This would also help reduce the costs.
In today’s times, the customer is looking for an overall edge from the outsourced party. This comes in multi-dimensions – expertise, knowledge, compliance, partnering towards such global initiatives etc. this provides the right push to choose this prudently.
Shanbhag: The major challenge we face in housekeeping is the usage of acidic chemicals, which are used for descaling the restrooms and which are the high risk areas. The alternate Green chemicals available are not found as effective resulting in increased cleaning frequency and also the effort.
Shetty: Green chemicals take time to give results, but it will be a good result after continuous use. It is not like other chemicals in the market which give immediate effect. This will take time to convince the customer which is a major challenge. Some customers would want fragrance in the chemicals – this mindset has to be changed. The client has to make up his mi nd for using Green chemicals.
For example, a customer will not accept a green tendency air freshener, as they will be well versed with the other variety of fragrances.
For what kind of cleaning are Green Chemicals suitable?
Deshmukh: The progress has ensured that except for very few applications, these chemicals are available to serve the purpose. The earlier concept of e.g. a toilet bowl cleaner, not being available in this category, also indicates shift and progress.
Shanbhag: All general cleaning requirements/ areas where cleaning is required can easily be sufficed by the use of appropriate green chemicals. However, as indicated before, all descaling requirements continue to remain a challenge with green chemicals.
Shetty: Green chemicals are more suitable in the hotel industry. Percentage wise, it is very good hotels, dairy farms, food industry and food processing, airports, temples.
Except the garages, where the oil content is more, it will not be as suitable as other industry.
Can green cleaning completely replace the existing chemicals in India?
Deshmukh: Considering the Indian scenario, the so-called hub of manufacturing, has to be even more careful of the nature of chemicals. Our population ensures there more footfall with lot more density compared to the rest of the world. All this necessitates the global responsibility to use green chemicals.
By virtue of the terminology, these chemicals are more efficient, meaning less expensive to use. they are also based on being environmentally safe over the entire life-cycle. The sooner we shift over completely, the better it would be. We know the effect of toxins from soil on our lives. It is utmost important for us to care for our future generations.
Shanbhag: Indian conditions as compared to the west have a major concern of dust; however, green chemicals are equally effective as any other convectional chemical. Due to extreme humid and warm conditions, the scale deposits on surfaces can get hardened.
Green Cleaning is not just about switching on to a couple of chemicals but a comprehensive program of integrating process, resources and tools which will complement green cleaning. Having tools that are ergonomically designed, using chemicals in the right proportions or having machines that are Star Rated with reduced resource consumption and sound value will not only complement cleaning but also enhance experiences.
Shetty: Yes. As per the trend, people are opting for green revolution. People are now aware about chemical effectiveness on the environment and on health. 10 years back, earlier the cleaning industry used contents like phenyl and acids which is now stopped.
People need to be educated about green tendency, green revolution and benefits of using green chemicals and effectiveness which helps in keeping an eco-friendly environment. Once people are satisfied with the use, it will prove to be a boom.