When you’re in the cleaning aisle of your supermarket you are faced with an array of “ecological this” and “environmentally friendly that.” Apart from the occasional Unilever or SC Johnson-branded product, the Diversey Care range of products bear little resemblance to what you’re looking at on the supermarket shelf. Many of our customers ask us – “I use this eco-friendly product at home, why don’t you supply this kind of product?”

However, there are several reasons as to why professional users should not use domestic products in the workplace.

In cleaning science there is a very useful concept called the Sinner’s Circle. The Sinner’s Circle involves four cleaning parameters, including:

  • Chemical – how “powerful” is the cleaning solution? This may be a simple matter of dilution, or stronger chemicals such as acids and alkalis.
  • Mechanical – how much agitation is involved? Are you simply spraying water, using a brush or a scouring pad?
  • Temperature – how hot is the cleaning solution? We all know that washing greasy plates is easier in hot water rather than cold.
  • Time – How long does the cleaning process take, or, how much time do you have?

The Sinner’s Circle concept states that optimum washing result can only be achieved when all four factors are harmonized. This means that if you reduce one parameter, you have to increase one or more of the others to compensate. For example, if you wash a greasy plate in cold water, you need to use more detergent, use a brush and/or accept that it will take longer to clean.

So what does all of this have to do with sustainability?

Consider that in our homes…

  • Soil or dirt types and levels tend to be significantly easier to clean than what we find in the professional market.
  • Other than rubber gloves, we typically do not have access to personal protective equipment. When was the last time you carried out a risk assessment for cleaning your kitchen or bathroom at home?
  • Usually we do not have to wash plates and glassware for the next seating of diners, so time is not a significant issue

Thus, the products we use to clean at home can be very innocuous and, because of this, are often positioned as environmentally friendly.

But imagine that your family expands from four people to four-hundred people – that’s 400 breakfasts, lunches and dinners, 400 baths or showers, 400 times three or four visits to the bathroom, 400 people walking on your floors – 400 times the dirt! And now consider that you are paying, by the hour, to have your home cleaned.

I wager that the products that you currently use to clean your home of four occupants will not clean your home with 400 occupants, and even if they did, you would be spending a small fortune on your cleaning staff. This is exactly the situation that universities, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and the rest of our customers face every day.

The reality is, in the professional cleaning market, cleaning speed (productivity) is critical. Furthermore, organizations are looking to reduce their energy consumption, so they need to clean at lower temperatures. Our TASKI equipment and Jonmaster Ultra-microfibers go a long way to improve mechanical cleaning but cannot be used in lots of professional cleaning applications such as machine warewashing or laundering. Our chemical products, therefore, typically have to be more powerful than the ones we use at home.

This is even recognized by the European Union in its Green Public Procurement (GPP) program for public authorities seeking products and services with a reduced environmental impact. For cleaning, GPP recommends EU eco-label certified products, but goes on to say:

They (EU eco-label products) should therefore only be used as GPP criteria in relation to products for cleaning operations where (a) the cleaning need and performance standard required are similar to that for households and (b) the cleaning process, conditions and equipment used is similar to those used in households.”

What makes a product eco-friendly is not necessarily what is in the bottle, but more about what the product does – reducing water, energy, waste, transportation and so on. When you look at it that way, our products are environmentally friendly, perhaps more so than the ones used at home.

To learn more about Sealed Air’s sustainability achievements and goals, view the new sustainability report.