For those that may have missed it, the $50 billion-plus professional cleaning industry has become one of the “greenest” industries in the U.S. Once viewed as a fad, environmentally preferable “green” cleaning solutions, tools, and equipment are now widely manufactured and used in facilities throughout the country.
In fact, in most cases, a facility manager or building owner will select a “green” cleaning product first, and only consider a traditional or non-green product if an environmentally preferable one does not exist, is cost prohibitive, or offers substandard performance.
But the professional cleaning industry is not resting on its past successes. Some manufacturers in the industry are now taking the next step and going beyond green cleaning – with its goal of reducing cleaning’s impact on health and the environment – to introducing, manufacturing, and marketing products that promote cleaning sustainability. And this refers to more than just avoiding the use of natural resources when making cleaning products, the original focus of the term sustainability. Instead, it addresses all three pillars of sustainability: economic, environment, and community.
One of the most effective ways cleaning sustainability is being accomplished is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred Program. The essence of this program is to convert, in whole or in part, unused agricultural products, residues, and forestry materials, and turn them into a wide range of products, including those that can be used for professional cleaning. These may be anything from professional cleaning solutions used to clean restrooms and commercial kitchens to floor pads used for cleaning, scrubbing, and “stripping” floors.
Altogether, there are approximately 2,200 products that have been certified biobased, however at this time, only a small portion of them are used for professional cleaning. These products may not include or be made from petroleum products, which historically have been used to make most professional cleaning solutions, tools, and products. Nor can they include chemicals or other ingredients considered potentially harmful to the user or the environment.
Because biopreferred products are composed of renewable agricultural products, include no traditional chemical ingredients, and their production and use generate reduced greenhouse gas emissions, their positive impact on the environment is clear. But how do they satisfy the other two pillars of sustainability: economic and community?
A June 2015 report by the USDA makes it fairly clear that the economic and community pillars are satisfied through increases in production of biobased goods. As many as four million jobs have been created since 2013 as a result of the “bio-economy,” as they call it.
Further, the bulk of these jobs are in rural communities around America, many of which struggled economically even before the Great Recession and have not benefited all that much as the U.S. economy has improved in recent years. In terms of dollars and cents, the USDA says the bio-economy contributes nearly $370 million annually to the U.S. economy.
Knowingly selecting biopreferred cleaning products creates jobs. It generates not only jobs but economic opportunities that in turn support and revive communities, all the while protecting the environment. Therefore, what is appearing to be the most effective way we have to make cleaning greener and more sustainable is to encourage the use of biopreferred cleaning products.
Jeffrey Gayer is Vice President of Product Development & Marketing for Impact Products, LLC. Impact Products is a leading manufacturer of professional cleaning tools and equipment and also markets a wide range of safety products and protective gear for workers in a variety of industries, from cleaning and construction to food service.
Quick Facts About the BioPreferred Program:
- The program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.
- Biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials.
- BioPreferred products do not include fuels, food, or animal feed.
- Four million jobs have been created directly or indirectly because of the BioPreferred program, contributing more than $370 million to the U.S. economy.
- Certified BioPreferred products bear a label that assures consumers the product contains a USDA-verified amount of renewable biological ingredients.
- Biobased products displace around 300 million gallons of petroleum per year in the U.S….the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.
- Products need to meet a minimum biobased content set by USDA.
- The manufacturers of these products must test the biobased content at an independent, third party laboratory.
Jeffrey Gayer is Vice President of Product Development & Marketing for Impact Products, LLC. Impact Products is a leading manufacturer of professional cleaning tools and equipment and also markets a wide-range of safety products and protective gear for workers in a variety of industries, from cleaning and construction, to food service.
He can be reached via his company website at http://www.impact-products.com