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Cleaning and the circular economy

26 August 2014

The focus in much of the trade press at the moment is on the Circular Economy; or how to do more with less, and ensure that less ends up in landfill.

For the circular economy to work effectively, the concept needs to be built into the initial design of products and materials and be embraced as ‘normal’ practice throughout the supply chain (or loop) right through to the end user. Last year, the UK's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) published a video detailing the business potential of the circular economy – and produced a useful graphic to explain the concept (source: www.wrap.org.uk).

Where does cleaning fit into this circular economy?  The cleaning industry has a key role to play as it is inextricably linked to building maintenance and repair.  Efficient and effective cleaning can prolong the lifespan of fixtures and fittings in buildings, and spot when a "stitch in time, can save nine”, and so help the building owners to maintain their assets and reduce the amount of materials that end up being added to the waste stream.

Cleaning companies also contribute to the circular economy by the careful selection of equipment and materials to take into account sustainability in terms of packaging and environmental impact, and supporting their clients to ensure waste generated is recycled wherever possible.  The last ten years has seen a number of innovations in cleaning technology, both in terms of how it is carried out, the equipment and the products used on the job – this has been in the interests of sustainability but also makes good business sense too.

This "green” approach to cleaning can help to ensure that commercial premises function with greater operational and financial efficiency, which certainly fits with the goal "to do more with less”.

Skills are at the heart of the circular economy. This is as relevant in the cleaning industry as it is in manufacturing, retail or waste and resource management.  Employees need to be equipped with the right skills to ensure their activities are sustainable whether it is buying cleaning equipment and materials, agreeing contracts with clients or delivering the cleaning service itself.

The circular economy is one of the themes at this year’s RWM, and the conference programme will host pioneers and practitioners, who will share their experiences and advice on the critical steps for making the circular economy approach work for business: Rethinking waste, thinking resource.  Why not take some time out to see how you can make the most of the opportunities.

WAMITAB will be at RWM, 16-18 September 2014, NEC in Hall 4, Stand H08-J109.

Written by Chris James, CEO of WAMITAB