Greenwashing in the cleaning industry

Greenwashing in the cleaning industry

Greenwashing in the cleaning industry

Greenwashing in the cleaning industry

It was around 2010 when the ecological aspects within industrial cleaning came into being. It started with "green" chemicals and their packaging.
The first initiatives were concentrates of the same old chemicals, reducing transport and packing material, followed by more environmental chemicals with less or no direct impact to the environment when getting into the drain.

The industry started using less water for cleaning by using microfibers and compact machines with a low water consumption.

Large facility companies started to analyze their carbon footprint and requested durable and sustainable products. The market for sustainable cleaning products was born and continues to grow. And with this growth "greenwashing" is increasing.


Greenwashing in cleaning industry

What is "greenwashing" and what can the supply industry do for the carbon footprint of the facility company?

Greenwashing is where companies use advertising and public messaging to appear more climate friendly and environmentally sustainable than they really are.

Cradle to cradle, recyclable, recycled and sustainability became keywords for selecting products. But what is the contribution of these products to your organization?

Cradle to cradle means a 100% re-use of compounds for producing the same product. If the used goods are returned to the factory after use, the end-user is contributing to a sustainable cleaning world society

Recyclable means that product is made from virgin material and their compounds can be reused for the same or any other product. The sustainable contribution depends on the quality of the regenerated compound. When considering cleaning textiles, a cleaning cloth is easier to recycle than a mop, as a mop is a collection of multiple and different materials. The contribution for high end recycling only takes place if the textiles are delivered back to an organization that can break down the product and separate the different components. Otherwise, the used products end up in the big grey unidentified plastics volumes with low sustainability contribution.

Recycled means that for producing the product, either part or all components contain recycled compounds. How much compound, however, is often undefined.

Recycled products do contribute to sustainability, but do not lower the carbon footprint of the cleaning company.

How do these keywords reflect the sustainability of your company?

Depending on the location and moisture level of cleaning, mops weigh from 350 to 100 grs. An average mop of 225 grs made of Polyester microfiber, where the cleaning part only (not the filling, the backside material, the washing label, sewing yarn or piping material) contains 80% recycled material. Around 20 grams, less than 10% of the original product, would be recycled material while the rest, in most cases is still virgin material. But of course, any contribution big or small, helps the environment. However, comparing this mop with an 88 grs Rekola Mopcloth, made of virgin materials, still the negative contribution of the "recycled" mop would be 117 grs virgin compounds. More than the net weight of 1 Rekola Mopcloth.

The heavier the mop is, the more recycled material can be added, but still overshadowing low weight products, by significantly more use of virgin materials. Which has a negative impact on the end-users Carbon footprint.

The fabric of most current cleaning cloths is Ultra Microfiber, a mixture of nylon
(PA) and polyester (PET). In recycling terms, only the PET part of the cloth can be used towards a recycled compound, but the cleaning efficiency might be affected by the recycled material. To compensate this effect more PA might be needed.

Ultra-Microfiber can be recycled, if collected separately, but not be reused for making Ultra Microfiber.
Regardless of the recycled compound, offering these cloths for recycling has a positive impact on the sustainability and carbon footprint of the end user company.

If the cloths cleaning ability is lowered by using recycled compound, the effect will be the increase of cleaning chemicals, and this contrasts with the latest trends of Ultra Microfiber supporting residue free cleaning by using only water. In such cases the increased use of chemicals affects the carbon footprint of the end user negatively.

Shedding is the loss of microfibers during use and laundering. Fleece products are known for their high loss of fibers, but also all Terry type and/or Staple yarn products will lose fibers quicker and heavier than for example, waffle woven products. Loss of micro plastics due to shedding from cleaning textiles has not been standardized, therefore many producers have not tested their products. The finishing of the open borders of this kind of textile may increase the shedding quantity; so, will piping lose significantly less fibers than overlock borders.
If not using special micro waste filters to the laundry machine, this has a negative effect on the sustainability and carbon footprint of the end-user cleaning company.

Unless the cleaning industry suppliers change their attitude and first focus on their overall contribution to C02e and sustainability, instead of only promoting themselves as green, the industry will not become more sustainable.

Using e.g., green electricity or recycled material at production does contribute towards lowering their C02e but considering the whole picture of cleaning it does not contribute that much or worse case even increase the C02e of the cleaning industry.

Cleaning without surfactants, less water, reducing aerosols, reducing waste, making products more durable, reducing laundry by less product volume are factors that have significantly more impact on lowering C02e than using recycled or recycle products.

We should do both to reduce the Carbon footprint of the cleaning industry.

The laundry of the cleaning textiles has two things to consider when it comes down to sustainability.

1. Lifecycle of the product. More washing cycles per product, the more sustainable the product and the end-user cleaning company.

2. Laundry volume. Less weight per cleaning textile, assuming they have the same cleaning capacity, means less washing volume.

Laundry has a huge impact to the carbon footprint and thereby the sustainability of the end-user cleaning company. A reduction of 60 to 80% of laundry volume, cleaning the same quantity surface, can reduce more C02e, than changing to electric cars. It includes the reduction of clean water, wastewater, laundry agent, electricity and the life-extension of laundry machine and optional dryer.

For example: 1000 pcs 225 grams mops 250 days compared to 88 grams Rekola Mopcloth reduces 80% of the C02e for laundry or 184 Tons kg C02e.
You can do the math yourself by visiting

<< Nyheter
<< Uutiset
<< News
<< News