Benefits to hiring a Commercial Cleaning Company

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One thing clients take for granted when they enter any business premises is its overall cleanliness. Keeping the office clean is the last thing you want to think about, especially when you have meetings to go to, deals to close and clients to please. This alone is a compelling enough reason to hire a commercial cleaning company to handle your cleaning requirements!

There are other factors that play a part as well, such as:

  • Managing Clients First Impressions - Clients might interpret a less than spotless facility as a reflection of the amount of care that goes into a business’s product or service and can decide to take business elsewhere.
  • Preventing Health Issues - Dust can easily accumulate in a workplace that has been neglected and employees who have allergies or breathing problems can suffer as a result.
  • Sustaining Staff Productivity and Satisfaction - Staff work better in clean environments and hiring a commercial cleaning company to keep the office clean improves moral and satisfaction in the workplace.
  • Leveraging Expertise, Experience and Equipment - While the option of hiring cleaning staff in-house is available, engaging experts at a premium is the same price to pay for the relative convenience and knowledge that a competent cleaning company can provide.

With years of experience, The Organised Cleaning Company knows how to carry out your cleaning requirements both effectively and efficiently. Visit our website for more details and request a free quote, or give us a call on 020 7458 4433 for all your commercial cleaning needs.

Who Hires a Domestic Cleaner?

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This week, our guest blogger Sharon Freeman provides some insight into the advantages and what to look out for when hiring a domestic cleaner for your home.

In the UK, families are trending toward hiring professional help to keep their homes clean.  There are many benefits to this, including giving families more free time together, improved sanitation at home and reduced stress levels –  all just by living in a consistently cleaner environment. Today, professional cleaning is a job which gives people opportunities to earn a living wage with benefits, regardless of their level of education.  

Isn’t it expensive?

Of course, the cost of hiring a cleaning professional has traditionally been a far lower percentage of income in the UK than in places like Australia, New Zealand and the United States.  Now, with the common nature of personal maid services, cleaning agencies and professional cleaning companies, it’s possible to pay less based on the frequency and duration of the service you require.  Many families only use a cleaning service for a few hours every one to two weeks.

Are there benefits besides a clean home?

There are some families who are interested in making the switch to a domestic cleaning service can’t quite seem to justify the expense. However, they might do well to realise that keeping their house clean does more than create a pleasant environment.  Kitchen and bathroom fixtures and appliances fall into disrepair because of limescale buildup, which can be prevented by frequent cleaning.  Carpets and wooden floors alike stay in better condition, and will not need replacing as often, provided they are kept clean and well maintained.  If you’re planning to sell your house at some stage or simply want your home to stand the test of time for future generations, investing in cleaning is an investment towards preserving the future value of your abode.

Are there ethical drawbacks to hiring a domestic cleaner?

Many people look at hiring a domestic cleaner as something reserved for elite families who think they are too good to do their own cleaning.  Of course, it’s never possible to speak for everybody and there are families who hire professional cleaners for this very reason, but most families simply don’t have enough time to clean the house as thoroughly and as often as they would like to.  That being said, it’s important to consider the following points before hiring a professional cleaner or professional cleaning service:

  • Be prepared to pay at least minimum wage (£6.35) or, if based in and around London, a London Living Wage (£8.55). Research what responsible companies in the area are charging, and paying their employees.
  • Find out whether the agency or cleaning company you employ provides their employees with all the required statutory benefits.
  • Make enquiries of the agency or cleaning company as to whether employees are being treated fairly. Ask to speak to agency representatives and ask to interview potential cleaners yourself.  After all, you are opening up your home to these people and the level of service and respect will increase the more happy the professional cleaner is with his or her labor situation.
  • Ensure that any agency or cleaning company you use hires only properly vetted and eligible workers. 
  • Never hire an undocumented worker as an independent contractor.  Even though the price may be lower per hour, the cost could be far greater in the long run.  Doing so can lead to a legal nightmare if discovered, especially for you as the ‘employer’ who will be expected in the eyes of the government to provide the proper benefits to all ‘employees.’  This also continues the negative pattern of exploiting vulnerable undocumented families, which is very unethical.

At The Organised Cleaning Company, we offer a professional domestic cleaning service and only employ fully vetted (including CRB checks) staff who have plenty of experience cleaning residential homes. We also ensure that our staff are looked after and paid well for their work, which ensures happiness in the workplace and enables us to maintain our exceptional cleaning standards. If you’d like to try our domestic cleaning service, follow this link for more details, call us on 020 7458 4433 (UK only) or email us at iprefer@organisedcleaning.com.

Sharon Freeman is a professional freelancer who writes about cleaning and the latest commercial cleaning trends in the cleaning world.

Corporations are at the heart of sustainability dynamism

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Back in September, Matt Harris attended a waste awareness course at Bywaters, who provide recycling and resource management services. One of Matt’s fellow attendees that day was Yousuf Jamil, an Environmental Assessor and UK-based environmentalist. Over the last few weeks, Yousuf kindly agreed to prepare a guest post  for The Organised Cleaner regarding sustainability and corporations. Given that Matt only recently had his ‘Sustainability Driven Service’ article published in November’s edition of Tomorrow’s Sustainable Cleaning, I thought this would be a great follow-up post so enjoy!

“Sustainability may still be in its infancy in absolute terms, but the move towards building ethically sound businesses has steadily gained momentum to last many years. Protecting the brand values, producing environmentally responsible products, carbon neutrality and social responsibilities are the new challenges for board members. Many of these values have are embedded within the DNA of many new business organisations. In recent research carried out by edie.net (Sustainable Business magazine) and Temple Group in the UK found that almost seven in 10 businesses (69%) consider sustainability to be a priority business driver for success in 2012, 40% of those see it as a high priority, i.e. at the core of their business strategy. 

The rapid increase of sustainability into corporate culture obviously tells us something. First of all, corporation’s survival is at stake if they do not embed these above mentioned values within their overall mission and vision. Secondly, it is very logical to do so. The logic is to protect the triple bottom line (e.g. economic, social and environmental aspects) where all businesses are facing new environmental challenges, trying to achieve things that can make a difference to our society and planet, as well a to the business’ environmental performance and its productivity, efficiency and profits.

One of the biggest changes that has happened over the past two decades within the larger manufactures, is a holistic approach in thinking and planning all the way from digging the raw-materials from the earth to manufacture the products, distribution, selling and disposing the waste. Every step of the process touches the very core of three pillars of sustainability – the triple bottom line. Similar changes have happened also within the service sector organisations. They are very keenly following their economic, social and environmental performances of doing their business. They are also part of overall sustainability package. 

The strategies to achieving a sustainable business outcome is to first secure brand integrity, transparency and authenticity. It is easier & cost-effective for those businesses that have already received considerable attention for many years as an ethical business,  and have environmental sound practices & social obligations within their overall corporate strategy. I’m not suggesting that the new sustainability practitioners will have a hard time – not quiet, they will immediately be picked up by the customers, then the business organisation can further strengthen their brand reputation by engaging more on social and environmental obligations and the effect could be even stronger. 

Businesses need to drive the green tech innovation (sustainability through green innovation), which would touch the fundamentals of sustainable business practices and have the aim of reducing waste, require less water and energy, minimise greenhouse gas emissions and use more recycled and alternative materials to manufacture the same products. Also, it’s important to encourage the entire supply chain as well as their customers to drive the green technological innovation to achieve similar benefits. By doing this, it is possible to bring everyone on-board within the sustainability obligations. 

Sustainability doesn’t mean that it is all about cutting down CO2 emissions. It is in fact a tiny part of the whole sustainability dynamism. As our society is facing increasingly negative impacts of global warming from the green house effects, minimising CO2 emissions has now become a norm. Sustainability dynamism is obviously much bigger than this. It’s not only saving water, energy, wise and careful use of resources or eating organic foods, but also about social policies related to employees and their communities, which are equally important as driving the green technological innovation or any other aspects of business growth. Social policies such as equal opportunity and diversity, appropriate laws against discrimination, action against forced labour, health & safety, work-life balance, pension schemes, freedom of association and collective bargaining, possibilities of internal promotion for the employees are also very important. Likewise, policies related to communities such as human rights, job opportunity, infrastructure development, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation etc. are immensely important in achieving sustainability goals. They are two sides of the same coin and part and parcel of ‘the triple bottom line’. 

Larger business organisations are perhaps one of the biggest sectors in our society, employing millions of people and many cases operating almost every country in the world. Near sustainability is possible if every business organisation and their employees do their part towards shaping a better tomorrow. Successful businesses will be those who recognise sustainability issues and put into practice sustainable environmental management plans and consider the competitive advantage that greening their products & services and having clean technology in place can help bring them closer to a sustainable future.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yousuf Jamil is a UK-based environmentalist. He has extensive experience in working with business and environment sectors for many years. Climate change and sustainability issues are one of the main areas of his research interest.

You can follow Yousuf’s blog, Environmental Affairs, and find out more information and insightful posts on sustainability by following the link. You can also connect with Yousuf via LinkedIn.

Sustainability Driven Service

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Both Matt Harris and I have been canvasing a cleaning publication called Tomorrow’s Cleaning via twitter to spread the word about sustainable cleaning and have a regular content about the sustainable cleaning industry in the magazine.

At the moment, Tomorrow’s Cleaning is the only publication that has a dedicated sustainable cleaning supplement, which is issued quarterly. We’ve asked for it to be issued monthly and this is something which the magazine will consider once the profile of sustainable cleaning has been raised sufficiently enough. A bit of a chicken and egg situation because without regular press it takes longer to raise the profile! In any event, Charlotte asked Matt to contribute to this quarter’s edition of the Tomorrow’s Cleaning Sustainable Supplement which was issued yesterday.

Tomorrow’s Cleaning has a readership of 58,000 people and gets distributed to those in the property, retail, leisure, government, transport and manufacturing sectors. November’s supplement will be circulated weekly through the month of November, so having  contributed to the supplement means The Organised Cleaning Company will have its profile raised significantly.

You can read the full edition of Tomorrow’s Cleaning Sustainable Supplement right here, and I’m also re-blogging it below for the benefit of my readers. Check out the cheesy photo of Matt Harris at the end! We’re interested in your comments on the article so like The Organised Cleaning Company’s Facebook page and let us know what you think, or comment on this blog post right here!

“Sustainability driven service 

Matt Harris, owner of The Organised Cleaning Company, explains the positive effects a sustainability driven cleaning service has on people, the planet and profits.

It’s safe to say that green cleaning is no longer regarded as a passing fad. The advancement of ecological cleaning products, cleaning technology such as microfiber and different energy efficient & water saving equipment has made the concept of green cleaning more commonplace at facilities throughout the UK.

Nowadays, however, clients are demanding more sustainable practices from their service providers to ensure that they’re wasting less, reusing more and reducing their harmful effects on the environment. Recent survey results revealed that sustainability may be the deciding factor in more than 40% of business negotiations.

In order to provide a sustainable cleaning service, cleaning companies have to do more than simply using ecological products and innovative technology, and adopt the triple bottom line at the core of their business – People, Planet, Profit:

People: This element is often considered in terms of stakeholders who have an interest in how the business is run. Often, the three main stakeholder groups are shareholders, employees and customers.

A sustainable cleaning service will add value to shareholders by enhancing stakeholder value, which includes making the role of a cleaning operative more satisfying for greater job satisfaction in order to maintain high levels of performance. Recruiting staff within close proximity of facilities, cutting traveling time, costs and CO2 emissions, whilst enabling staff to take on more work or a second job. Daytime cleaning also allows staff to engage with customers during regular working hours, which helps build rapport and develops their inter-personal skills.

From a customer perspective, they have to satisfy their own stakeholders by taking active steps to embrace sustainability. Employing a sustainable cleaning company will be a contributing factor to their ‘green’ credentials and can add a certain amount of environmental kudos.

Planet: One of the challenges faced by today’s society is taking responsibility for the environment for future generations.

A sustainable cleaning service minimises its impact on the environment not just by using less toxic, ecological products or reusable cleaning materials, but by providing a service that increases energy efficiency & encourages a waste hierarchy (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle), in order to reduce a facility’s carbon footprint and the amount of waste it sends to landfill. Carrying out a lifecycle analysis, implementing a daytime cleaning regime and identifying & effectively managing processes that produce the most waste all contribute to a facility functioning more sustainably.

Profit: A key advantage of a sustainable cleaning service is that its operational efficiency enables cost savings at facilities.

Today’s ecological cleaning products require smaller inventories of stock to clean facilities, and by training staff to products & equipment correctly ensures that there’s less wastage so that inventories last longer. Buying concentrated products in bulk and decanting them reduces transport costs and emissions, whilst producing less packaging waste. Using an electric fleet of vehicles when staff, products and equipment need to be moved from different facilities, produce zero emissions, save on road tax and are up to seven times cheaper per mile than diesel vehicles.

Reducing the amount of energy consumed (lighting accounts for 16% of the UK’s total energy use, with commercial properties accounting for 43% of this usage) & the amount of waste produced (waste accounts for 4-5% of a company’s operating costs) at facilities will also have a significant impact on a customer’s bottom line, especially with rising energy costs and landfill tax.

In short, a sustainable cleaning service has a positive effect not just on the bottom line of businesses by having a positive effect on profits, but also a wider reaching effect of protecting the two other “Ps” that constitute the triple bottom line – people and planet.”

 

Waste Awareness Part 4 – The Law and Environmental Aspects

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In the fourth and final part our this series on waste awareness, I’ll briefly cover the legal, health & safety and environmental aspects of waste. If you’ve been following this series you’ll already have read up on the definition of waste (Part 1 – What is Waste?), the waste hierarchy (Part 2 – Waste Minimisation) and waste management (Part 3), so I’m hoping that this last post in the series will complete an elementary understanding of waste in the UK.

Safety & Environmental Aspects

Health and Safety ExecutiveThere’s a raft of Health & Safety legislation which imposes requirements on employers and employees to safeguard their health and safety in the workplace. The three major topics to be considered from a waste perspective, are the storage, handling and dispatch of waste.

In most circumstances, mechanical means should be used to transport heavy waste materials and care should be taken when lifting waste materials into skips or containers. If there is any danger of cuts or contamination, gloves should be worn to carry waste materials. Where heavy materials are being carried by employees, an appropriate risk assessment should have been carried out coupled with the required training to perform the task.

When dealing with chemical waste, the safety requirements will often be detailed in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH sheets or Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and a number of safety issues should be considered when storing waste such as personal protective equipment, segregation of incompatible waste, chemicals, bunding of liquid waste containers or tanks and skips should be correctly loaded so that they don’t become overweight or allow the waste to stick out.

The nature of the waste dictates that environmental aspects such as litter, odour, vermin, dust, vapours and spillages or leaks should be considered when storing waste. To minimise the potential impacts of storage of waste, thought needs to be given to the types of waste and the best form of containment for those wastes.

The Law

Everyone has a legal responsibility to ensure that all waste is dealt with properly and that it’s ultimately disposed of in the right place. The purpose of UK waste law is to control the keeping, transport, treatment, deposit and disposal of waste and covers all sections of waste management, including:

  1. Storage of waste at producers premises
  2. Registering waste carriers and brokers
  3. Licensing/permitting of waste treatment and disposal facilities
  4. Monitoring and control of waste
  5. Keeping appropriate records
  6. Specific control of hazardous waste
  7. Obligations for waste recycling or recovery

Waste legislation also specifies the obligations on Waste Collection Authorities (local councils) to collect waste and consider recycling.

Duty of Care

The most fundamental part of UK waste law is duty of care. The purpose of the duty of care is to make sure that anyone who imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of waste or acts as a broker, takes all reasonable measures to ensure that they and others they might hand the waste to, manage the waste according to the law and prevent its escape. It also requires that appropriate records are kept by anyone who handles waste at any stage. The duty of care applies to all controlled waste, whether it comes from the household, commerce or industry. The waste producer has a clearly defined responsibility for waste that it produces to ensure that it is disposed of correctly.

Whenever waste is transferred from one party to another, a transfer note must be completed by both parties. Waste must be accurately described including a six digit European Waste Catalogue code. The written waste description provided must be adequate to allow the person receiving the waste to comply with their own legal obligations including duty of care and others such as health & safety. Regulations also require that all those who carry controlled waste must be registered with the relevant agency.

The waste producer also has a responsibility to ensure that their waste is being transferred to a registered waste carrier or, if they transfer it themselves, to a suitable licensed disposal facility. The waste producer should carry out regular checks on their waste contractors to ensure that they remain registered to carry waste.

The main Government agencies in the UK concerned with the enforcement if waste legislation are the Environment Agency (England & Wales), Scottish Environment Protection Agency and The Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland).

Hazardous Waste & Packaging Waste

Hazardous Waste Regulations ensure that wastes are dealt with carefully and safely. The classification of hazardous waste can be quite complex and depends on the type of waste and the waste process from which it derives. When hazardous waste is transferred to a carrier, both the producer and the carrier must check and sign the consignment note having regard t their duty of care, at any stage, to ensure that the waste is properly packaged and labelled to comply with relevant transport regulations. For any hazardous waste that is sent to landfill, and additional Waste Acceptance Criteria is required by the Landfill Directive and further information on this should be obtained from a specialist waste manager or waste management company.

The Packaging Waste Directive 1994 (adopted into UK legislation by the Packaging Waste Regulations 1997)  places obligations on certain businesses to recover and recycle specified tonnages of packaging waste each year. Regulation in 2005 required business to register with the relevant agency or via a compliance scheme, with new targets having been set for 2008, 2010 and 2012. The regulations apply to any organisation with a turnover of over £2m p/a and producing or using more than 50 tonnes p/a of packaging. If it qualifies, the organisation will have to account for the recycling and recovery of a specified percentage of the waste it creates.

And finally…

One element in the waste industry which has caused a lot of controversy recently is landfill tax. The object of this tax is to make landfill increasingly more expensive and to encourage waste producers to consider alternative options for their waste before sending it to landfill. There are two rates of landfill tax depending on whether it’s active waste (most kinds of household, commercial or industrial waste) at £64 per tonne or inactive waste (such as rocks or soil) at £2.50 per tonne. The cost of landfill tax is on the increase annually and can be a big cost to business, so the incentive for finding alternative options for waste that businesses produce is significant.

As with all law, there are also penalties for any breaches. Cases can be tried in the Magistrates or Crown Courts which can impose high penalties such as fines (up to £50,000 in the Magistrates and unlimited in the Crown Court) and/or imprisonment (up to 12 months in the Magistrates and 5 years in the Crown Court) so it pays to follow the letter of the law precisely to avoid being penalised.

Waste Awareness Part 3 – Waste Management

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 I’ve already helped define what waste is in Part 1 (What is Waste) and Part 2 of the series covered avoiding the production of waste (Waste Minimisation) as part of this series. In the third of my four-part series on waste awareness, I’m going to set out information on the disposal of waste, which is the very last option in the waste hierarchy.

Waste Strategy 

As landfill is a major source of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas contributing to global warming), the EU Landfill Directive has set ambitious targets for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste (See Part 1 – What is Waste) sent to landfill:

  1. Reducing municipal waste to landfill down to 35% of the 1995 tonnage by 2020;
  2. banning co-disposal of hazardous waste & non-hazardous waste, and requiring separate landfills for hazardous, non-hazardous and inert waste;
  3. banning landfill of tyres and certain other wastes;
  4. banning landfill of liquid wastes, infectious clinical waste and certain types of hazardous waste together;
  5. increasing standards of landfill.

Meeting these target is a major challenge and the Government has introduced its Waste Strategy for England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate strategies) which concentrates on the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste.   The Government has placed a number of restrictions on the disposal of waste including financial tools such as Landfill Tax, to disincentivise landfilling and make other ways of dealing with waste more financially attractive.

Waste Disposal Routes

There are a number of routes to disposing of waste and all parties, including the waste producer, have a legal responsibility to receive or dispatch waste in a way that satisfies their duty of care (more on this in Part 4!). The responsibilities of each person in the waste chain is set out below.

Waste Producer – The waste producer decides on which route is chosen to dispose of waste. The most important point for the producer is to know its waste so that important financial, legal or environmental decisions on how to handle the waste can be made. The type of waste and description of waste will dictate how it’s handled & stored to meet safety and environmental obligations.

Segregation of waste may be necessary as different waste has different disposal routes. For segregation to be effective it should be done as close as possible to the point of waste production. Good waste management practice should also ensure that people are accountable for the cost, nature and description of waste .Having made a decision about the segregation of waste, the next step is to decide on the best disposal route by:

  • Appointing a registered waste carrier;
  • Contracting with a registered waste broker; or
  • Delivering waste to a suitably licensed waste facility direct.

Waste Broker – Brokers usually deal with complex hazardous waste or where the producer has a number of sites spread over a wide geographical area. Brokers will contract with other waste specialists to provide a complete waste service of waste collection and disposal. All brokers must be registered with the Environment Agency and clients must check that the broker is indeed properly registered.

Waste Carrier – Waste carriers are specialised contractors with purpose-built vehicles or containers for carrying waste. Whoever is appointed as the waste carrier must be given an adequate description of the waste it will be transporting so that this can be carried safely and transferred onto the next person in the chain.

The waste carrier can only be responsible for the waste described to him by the producer and should check the waste ‘so far as reasonably practicable’ to ensure that it is the waste as described. Therefore, if the waste is wrongly described to the carrier, the producer may be responsible for it, not the carrier. The waste carrier has to keep appropriate documentation about the wast it carries and also needs to be registered with the Environment Agency.

Waste Management Facilities – There are a variety of waste disposal facilities throughout the UK. Because of their specialised knowledge & position in the waste disposal chain, they’re in the best position to identify where something has gone wrong further up the chain (e.g. wrong description, wrong waste) and it’s not uncommon for a waste disposer to reject waste where it has been incorrectly described. Waste disposers have a responsibility, once they’ve accepted waste, to process it only in the manner that is allowed in their licence or permit and to ensure best environmental practice:

  • Transfer Stations – They bulk up waste to make subsequent transport more efficient, and also sort and separate materials for recycling (sometimes known as Material Recovery Facilities or MRFs). The bulked residues will then go to landfill, recovery or treatment, in larger containers or vehicles.
  • Thermal Treatment Facilities – These facilities subject wastes to some form  of heat treatment, converting the waste into another form and recovering energy from the material. Two types of waste normally incinerated are either combustible household, industrial and commercial waste or hazardous waste. Thermal Treatment Facilities have to meet stringent standards for all emissions and require complex equipment to clean the discharges to the environment.
  • Treatment Facilities – These operations process the physical or chemical treatment of waste to change its nature so that it’s a useful secondary material or more suitable for landfill. Examples include composting, oil and solvent recovery, refuse derived fuel and solidification.

Landfill – Landfill is the process of placing waste below or above ground to get rid of it and at the same time either restoring land to its previous level or providing an attractively mounded landscape. The Landfill Directive has restricted what waste can go to landfill. Biodegradable and hazardous wastes cannot go to landfill without some sort of pre-processing in a treatment facility.

Waste Audit

An essential feature of good waste management practice is waste auditing so that detailed knowledge is gained of the wastes being produced by a business. A waste audit will identify a) types of waste b) quantities of waste and c) points of waste production. Waste audits should be carried out in a systematic way and legal obligations should be considered at each stage.

Carrying out a waste audit should be a combination of both waste data collection and a review of processes. From this information it’s possible to see which activities in a department produce waste and what types of waste, and consideration can also be given to how raw materials, processes or waste handling methods can be changed to reduce or prevent waste.

In the last of this four part series on waste awareness, I’ll be covering safety, environmental and legal aspects of waste. Hopefully, at the end of the series I will have provided you with some useful insight on the importance of managing the waste that your business (or home) produces, the options available to you before having to dispose of waste and how the effective management of waste can have a significant impact on your business’ bottom line.

Waste Awareness Part 2 – Waste Minimisation

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Following on from the first part of this four part series on waste awareness (Part 1 – What is Waste?), I thought it useful to provide some information on the waste hierarchy and how your business (or your home) can go about reducing the amount of waste it produces.

Waste can be expensive to manage and the costs are only going to increase until the Government is satisfied that a number of targets on waste minimisation are met. If businesses can minimise the amount of waste they produce in the first place, it will save them, and local councils, money and make businesses more competitive.

The Waste Hierarchy

The waste hierarchy shows the options for businesses to deal with waste they produce. In the UK, disposal has been the most common option for most businesses. However, as taxes and the cost of waste disposal increases annually & legislation changes, businesses should consider other options.

Best practice for businesses involves starting at the top of the waste hierarchy and examining opportunities for prevention and reduction when carrying out  a waste audit.

1. Prevention/Reduction

Waste reduction concentrates on not producing waste in the first place and will require businesses to review & analyse their processes & inputs. This will often include a review of the design of the products or services a business offers and the processes it uses to produce them. Waste reduction includes:

  • Prevention/reduction of waste generated;
  • efficient use of raw materials; and
  • process analysis.

In this context, waste reduction will cover pollution prevention, resource efficiency, clean production and clean or cleaner technology. Waste typically costs business 4.5% of their turnover for most businesses a saving of 1% of turnover or more may be made through waste reduction.

With the amount of waste and environmental legislation increasing, by reducing waste businesses are better able to comply  with legislation and avoid the amount of expensive fines they can incur, as well as reducing environmental risks and liabilities.

2. Reuse

Reuse differs from recycling as it does not involve a process which changes the original item in order to make it usable. Even the simplest office can have scope for savings from reuse, such as using refillable ink cartridges or using the back of a single sided copies as office scrap paper.

In more complex industrial settings there will be a whole range of inputs and related process where a waste audit will need to identify all inputs, possible wastages in the process and how they impact on each other to determine how items can be reused . By closely examining inputs, it may be possible to link processes and reduce waste.

The 2002/2003 Commercial and Industrial Waste Production Survey carried out by the Environment Agency identified that 44% of industrial and commercial wastes are being reused or recycled in England and Wales. The practice is being encouraged and there are an increasing number of waste clubs or waste directories available to enable businesses to exchange packaging or other materials between themselves to prevent materials entering the waste stream.

3. Recycle

Recycling enables waste materials to be used again after they have been put through a process, rather than using virgin, mostly limited, raw materials. The opportunity for recycling materials that would otherwise be sent for disposal is growing all the time as new markets and re-processors are being established to accept materials and convert them to second and further uses.

Waste materials are more effectively recycled if they’re segregated and clean and the segregation of raw materials is best carried out as near as possible to the point of production. This is an important rule when setting up a system for recycling.

The most common materials suitable for recycling are paper, metals, organic wastes, plastics, construction,demolition and inert waste, oils, glass and wood.

4. Recovery

Where materials cannot be re-used or recycled to make another product, the final option prior to disposal is to recover energy from the material via thermal treatment, either by burning the material alone or combining it with existing fuels to reduce the fossil fuel (i.e. coal and oil) input.

Energy recovery from waste is the least favourable method of waste minimisation in environmental terms, however at least some value is being recovered from the waste. This option is becoming increasingly important as a waste management option & energy provider. New technologies and processes are being developed all the time to enable clean and efficient energy recovery with minimal environmental impact, whilst allowing waste to be diverted from landfill.

Your business

Have you adopted a waste hierarchy within your business (or home!) and if not, do you think it might be time to consider doing so? The benefits for reducing waste created by your business will have  a significant impact on its bottom line, as well as the wider positive effect it will have on the environment.

At The Organised Cleaning Company, we work hard to implement our waste hierarchy within the business in order to keep our costs as low as possible  and those costs savings are passed on to our clients. We can also help you with your waste requirements by carrying out waste audit as part of our site survey for your cleaning requirements, so that you can find out  how you might better manage your waste in order to reduce costs.  Contact us on 020 7458 4433 and book an appointment so that we can help you with your cleaning and waste needs.

Waste Awareness Part 1 – What is Waste?

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As a business owner or operator, can you honestly answer this question?

If no, don’t fret! Over the few weeks I’ll be posting a four part series on waste awareness. This all stemmed from our director Matt Harris attending a waste awareness course last week. He brought back some interesting notes and a couple of booklets waste, so I thought I’d enlighten those of you who know as little about waste as I did.

1. Introduction

The management of waste is often seen as an unimportant task which doesn’t require any knowledge about health and safety, protection of the environment or statutory obligation. However, failure to deal with waste effectively can have serious consequences for a business, whilst dealing with it effectively & in a sustainable manner can provide real and tangible benefits.

Businesses can make significant cost savings by reducing their waste (which on average accounts for 4-5% of a company’s operating costs). They can also contribute towards improving their local and national environment, which in turn helps to improve a company’s reputation with its stakeholders.

Research conducted by the Environment Agency points to  SME’s having a lack of knowledge of both environmental legislation and their responsibilities when it comes to waste. As the SME sector is responsible for more than half of the commercial waste produced in the UK, this is a serious cause for concern.

England & Wales produces approximately 430 million tonnes of waste a year (250 million tonnes of waste from household, commerce & industry, 90 million tonnes from agriculture and 95 million tonnes from mining & quarrying). As you can see, this is not an inconsiderable amount of waste that needs to be disposed of.

The cost of dealing with waste is generally underestimated, however, to work out the true cost of waste, you need to consider the following:

  • Raw material wastage;
  • Waste collection and transport;
  • Quality losses (i.e. rejects);
  • Energy, water and other material losses;
  • Handling and storage of waste;
  • Effluent/air emissions abatement plan;
  • Protective equipment and workplace monitoring;
  • Spillages, leaks and contamination;
  • Licensing; and
  • Liability insurance.

By SME’s looking at waste as a resource rather than a problem, they are able to significantly reduce the impact and cost of waste.

2. What is waste?

There are two ways of defining waste:

  1. The process analysis definition – “Anything which doesn’t make it to the final product is waste”; and
  2. The legal definition – Waste is ‘any substance or object…whicht he holder discards or intends or is required to discard’.

With the legal definition, it is important to understand what waste is because once it’s legally defined as waste, it requires the producer to take care of it and keep records and documents differently than if it is not waste.

The different types of waste that can be produced are legally defined by the process or premises from which they’re produced:

  • Household waste arises from dwellings of various types;
  • Municipal waste is collected by or on behalf of the local council and includes household waste, market waste, street sweepings & some commercial waste;
  • Commercial waste comes from premises wholly or mainly used by trade, business, sport, recreation or entertainment; and
  • Industrial waste comes from any factory or industrial process.

Controlled WasteAll of the above classifications are called controlled waste, i.e. the storage, handling, transportation and disposal is controlled by legislation and must meat certain legal requirements. Controlled waste must be handled by competent people regulated by the relevant regulatory agency.

Some controlled wastes have additional classifications and are subject to further regulation because of their nature and the need to handle them differently:

  • Hazardous waste need particular handling and additional controls from the point of waste production to final disposal. Business premises producing hazardous waste may have to register with the Environment Agency; and
  • Clinical waste comes from hospitals, nursing homes, dentists, surgeries and the like but can also include some waste from dwellings. Waste that carries infection shouldn’t be put into normal household waste but needs to be handled differently, and not all clinical waste can be disposed of immediately.

As you can see, there’s more to waste than initially meets the eye, and we’ve only really established what waste really is and its different classifications! For further information on waste & waste management, go to the Chartered Institute of Waste Management’s website.

Just so you know, Matt has gained certification from the Chartered Institute of Waste Management thanks to attending the course last week. As a result, The Organised Cleaning Company can not only provide an organised cleaning service, but we can also carry out waste audit at your premises and help with your waste management requirements. For further details, contact The Organised Cleaning Company on 020 7458 4433.

The Green Olympics?

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Ok Ok, I have to admit that I got sucked into the Olympics BIG TIME hence not having posted anything for the last three weeks (2 weeks for the Olympics and 1 week suffering from Post-Olympic Depression). Didn’t TeamGB do well, so proud to be British and everything that we achieved from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, and all the athletics in between. Can’t believe that our small island came third in the medals table behind the behemoths that are China and the USA. Just goes to show that size doesn’t matter, right?

Anyway, now that I have gotten over my POD (just), I thought I’d write a short post on how London2012 was supposed to be the revolutionary Olympics not just by inspiring future generations and leaving a legacy, but by aiming to be the first really sustainable Olympics. In case you didn’t know, here are some top 10 green Olympic facts:

1. The Olympic stadium is the world’s first recyclable stadium. The stadium includes a third recycled content and it was constructed with less than half the amount of steel and requires 60% less water than comparably sized stadia, making it the lightest and most water efficient Olympic stadium to date.

2. The sustainable VeloPark. The velodrome was constructed using mainly timber (from sustainable sources!) and has a lightweight roof which reduces carbon emissions by limiting the use of steel. It also has rainwater harvesting capabilities to help cut water consumption by 75%.

3. Athletes EcoVillage. The Athletes Village, which housed up to 17,000 athletes, represents the UK’s first sustainable housing development to be built from the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. This means the buildings are 44% more energy-efficient than 2006 building regulations required and boast more than 10,000 sq/m of green roofing. The London Legacy Development Corporation plans to tun the site into a 225-hectare park boasting 45 hectares of bio diverse habitat and a network of pathways, cycle routes and waterways. Let’s hope they can follow through on their plans!

4. Olympian green space. Even though the London legacy Development Corporation has plans for the Olympic Park once the Paralympics have finished, the initial construction of the park included a number of green spaces which saw more than 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 300,000 wetland plants planted to create a beautiful new open green space for London. As mentioned above, the 45 hectares of wildlife habitats included the creating on reed beds, grassland, ponds, woodlands, bird&bat boxes and artificial otter holes.

5. Minimal landfill use. The Olympic Delivery Authority has exceeded its target to reduce waste in construction and demolition as more than 90% of waste is expected to be re-used/recycled and 90% of construction waste can be diverted from landfill.

6. A greener side of McDonalds? Yes that’s right, one of the biggest fast food producers and conglomerates on the planet showed us its greener & ethical side. Not only did McDonald’s require caterers to source food to high environmental,ethical and animal welfare standards, it also kitted out its 2,000 Olympic employees in Wayne Hemingway-designed uniforms made from closed-loop compatible and recyclable materials. McDonald’s expect to roll out the uniforms to its 87,500 employees across the UK this autumn, seriously reducing the amount of clothing waste sent to landfill. Wow.

7. Coke closes loop. Coca-Cola promised to turn all plastic bottles thrown away at the Olympics into 80m new drinks bottles thanks to a new £15m factory developed in partnership with ECO plastics, based in Lincolnshire.

8. Greener Beemers. Who could miss the massive fleet of Olympic branded BMW’s rushing through the near empty Olympic lane ferrying the great and good around the capital to various events. Although the transportation costs could be questioned, BMW’s Olympic fleet included 200 electric vehicles and 400 bicycles. BMW apparently achieved its target of ensuring that its Olympic Games’ fleet did not exceed average emissions of 120 grams of CO2 per km, and also pioneered the use of zero emission technologies.

9. The smart-er Olympics. That’s right, energy monitoring has moved into the 21st Century as EDF used real-time energy monitoring at the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome, the basketball arena and the aquatics centre as well as Tower Bridge and the London Eye. We can keep track of the energy use at these facilities online and EDF will be offering the service to businesses from the autumn. As an aside, British Gas are offering something similar for residential homes!

10. Working from home – Bonus! Be honest, how many of you used the Olympics as an excuse to “work from home”? Even though the transport network wasn’t half as busy as expected, working from home was very much encouraged as part of the campaign to ensure that the transport network wasn’t over crowded. A number of technologies were embraced to make home working possible and it would appear that due to its success, plenty of firms are now expected to consider emission cutting home-working programmes.

Although EDF weren’t able to launch their bio-fuel Olympic torch on this occasion which would have added another level of sustainability to the fact sheet, these facts in themselves present a great template for future Olympics to go ahead on a sustainable footing. It will be interesting to see whether Brazil will follow suit and whether they can match or even surpass London2012′s achievement, but we shall have to wait four years to find out.

In the meantime, bring on the Paralympics!!

Cleaning products explained

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So, last week I gave you a brief history of housekeeping and this week I thought I’d provide some information on what constitutes many of the general cleaning products that are used in many of today’s households.

At present, around 85,000 synthetic chemicals are being used with another 500 or so being added to the mix each year, with many of these new compounds are used to clean and sanitize our houses. As these chemicals are produces in massive amounts, and some have such long lives, traces of them are routinely found in rain water, snow, sediment and surface water, which consequently end up in wastewater treatment plants and eventually, in our houses via kitchen and bathroom taps.

The human body can handle small amounts of poisons but it starts to malfunction when burdened by toxic overload. Many chemicals are stored in body fat while others migrate to vital organs (the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles) and its surely no coincidence that the increased use of manufactured chemicals coincides with a rise in the number of health trends such as breast cancer and asthma.

With this in mind, do you know what chemicals constitute your cleaning products? Most chemicals found in household products fall into a few major classifications, and many products contain a mix of chemicals that cover more than one category:

A. Synthetic Organic Compounds

Some of these chemicals are building blocks for detergents and plastics, as well as for propane and other gas fuels, heating oil and lubricants. They’re common in everyday household chemicals  and within this broad class you will find:

  1. Aromatic hydrocarbons – Many of these simple organics compounds are known to be carcinogens and are used in degreasers, deodorizers and pesticides.
  2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – These chemicals evaporate easily at room temperature and may attach themselves to soft materials such as clothes, curtains, furniture and carpeting. Eventually they dissipate into the outdoor air where they can cause low-altitude smog.
  3. Petrochemicals – These chemicals are connected to a host of environmental and health challenges, from oil spills and greenhouses gases to childhood development problems. The use of petrochemicals also reinforces our dependence on a dwindling supply of petroleum. Petrochemicals are found in a variety of household cleaners including household cleaners, floor waxes, furniture polishes, degreasers and all-purpose cleaners.

B. Chlorinated Compounds

Chlorine is a highly toxic gas and one of its first uses was as a poison in World War I. Today there are some 15,000 chlorinated compounds in commercial use and some are found in common cleaning products including sanitizing and bleaching agents, solvents (for dry cleaning for example), tub and tile cleaners and pesticides. Chlorinated compounds used within the home enter the environment when they get washed down the drain. Many of these chemicals are similar to human hormones and may be able to mimic them in the body; chlorinated compounds are suspected of affecting sperm counts , the rate of male births and other biological functions.

C. Phosphates

Phosphates contain phosphorous which act as a nutrient in water systems. an overabundance of phosphorus encourages excessive growth of algae and weeds, robbing less aggressive plants and animal life of oxygen, resulting ultimately in lifeless streams and rivers.

In most instances people are not aware of the make-up of the cleaning products that they use around their home and the damage that they are doing to themselves and the environment. Whilst it has become commonplace to use chemical cleaners around the home to deal with everyday cleaning (see my previous post, A brief history of housekeeping, or better still, check out the cupboard under the sink in the kitchen & bathroom where you keep you cleaning supplies!!), the development and emergence of more and more effective green cleaning products (such as Delphis Eco) means that consumers now have a choice  to use products that have a minimal impact on the environment and are not detrimental to their & their families health.

At The Organised Cleaning Company, we believe that the future lies in green cleaning and we offer a residential cleaning service which not only uses ecological cleaning products but is also provides a sustainable service which is aimed at minimising waste, energy, water use, pollution and natural resource depletion. The question is, are you cleaning green? If not, why not contact us!