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As more and more international businesses expand in India, they will expect to provide the same excellence in cleanliness and maintenance that defines their facilities – and their brands – around the world. James White, President-International Sector of Ecolab, spoke to Clean India Journal about the rising standards, sustainability and the company’s views of the Indian market. Ecolab operates in more than 160 countries with 27,000 associates globally, and is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cleaning, infection prevention and food & safety products and services.

The growing Indian economy and the demographics are favourable for the operations of international cleaning companies. It offers tremendous opportunities.

“Ecolab is happy to be serving the Indian market. What differentiates us from other solution providers is our approach. We go beyond sustainability and green cleaning agents to help customers provide safer, cleaner and healthier environments for their customers and employees. It’s not only the product offering that matters. It’s also the value-added services, such as helping to train staff on an ongoing basis and personally delivering services at each unit, that are important” said White.

With the entry of global chains of five-star hotels, fast food restaurants, food and beverage processing companies and retail outlets into India, White believed that Ecolab has an important role to play in the movement to establish global standards of cleanliness, food safety and infection prevention in the country. “The hospitality industry is gearing up to provide a healthy lodging experience and raise the standards of cleanliness and sustainability for the growing numbers of business travellers and tourists,” said White. Ecolab is committed to partnering with its customers and trusted partners in India to meet their expectations. In the hospitality sector, it has products for both housekeeping and food & beverage operations. These products include detergents to clean dishes, floors, laundry and other hard surfaces.

Turning to the topic of sustainability, White said, “Ecolab purposefully designs and delivers programmes that minimise total impact. We long ago recognised that, while it is important to achieve sustainability goals in our own operations, our real opportunity to positively impact the environment is through our customers. By providing our more than one million customer locations with products and services that help them reduce water & energy use and the waste they generate, our impact can be exponential.”

Ecolab believed not only in development of green products but also in designing products and services whose total impact – on cleaning effectiveness, on the environment and on the economics of its customers’ businesses – was positive. As an illustration, White pointed to a new laundry system suitable for on-premise laundry in the hospitality industry. It washes at low temperatures, saving energy and reducing water use, thus lowering both environmental impact and operating costs. White acknowledged that sustainability often had different meanings for different customers. “It’s a challenge because there is no uniform green standard globally or even locally. For us, it’s about products that do not damage the environment; it’s about energy and water savings and improved productivity for our customers’ organisations. That’s why we take a total impact approach.”

A critical part of Ecolab’s offering is customer staff training. It also conducts many awareness programmes, both in the hospitality industry, food and beverage industry and in the healthcare sector. “Effective cleaning, sanitation, food safety and infection prevention require using the right products in the right amounts in the correct way and at the recommended frequency. We provide ongoing training to make sure our customers’ employees are knowledgeable about food safety and infection prevention principles as well as how to use our products and services optimally.”

Recently, in conjunction with the charity organisation HOPE, the company led training for Delhi’s top hospitals in ways to prevent the spread of healthcare-acquired infections (HAI), such as MRSA. The focus of the programme was hand hygiene – teaching housekeepers, nurses and doctors how to wash their hands and the optimal frequency of sanitising and washing hands, especially after contact with patients.

As more international healthcare companies come into India, high standards are going to become the norm. Ecolab has value-added infection prevention solutions that would enable hospitals and healthcare facilities to reduce HAIs and, simultaneously, increase patient and physician satisfaction. It has recently installed hundreds of hand-hygiene dispensers in hospitals in India. “We expect to use products and programmes in India that we have developed for global application. Although some countries may prohibit certain raw materials, we find that there are more similarities than differences around the globe. However, we are prepared to operate within varying local regulations. Regardless, we make sure that the solutions we offer are sustainable – and that they enable our customers to meet their global standards for cleanliness, safety and health.” Regarding manufacture of Ecolab products in India, White said, “We have a third-party manufacturing partnership in Baroda, Gujarat. Raw materials are also available close by. In due course, we will continue to evaluate the strategic investments to help us grow within India.”

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