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Building a sustainable and inclusive future

26 November 2021

Gary Fage discusses environmental cleaning and examines why it has never been so important in the UK as it is right now.

THE VERY word ‘environmental’ carries the weight of responsible management of our collective resources, our urban spaces, and after the pandemic, a more intense regard for the importance of society’s hygiene practice.

I’ve had a lengthy career in the cleaning industry, and am honoured to have been recently appointed as Master of the WCEC. As a long-standing cleaning industry professional and liveryman, I have a unique opportunity to help promote the best elements, supporting our industry to evolve with the times. My focus will be on continuing professional development for all industry colleagues, and the full inclusion of sustainable practice at every level of our offering as an industry.

There are a few irons in the fire already as I have been speaking with the other liveries about environmentally friendly practices, including cleaning, and how they can get actively involved within their own organisations. There’s a push by the Lord Mayor to make the City of London greener in the post-Covid recovery plan, called the Build Back Better . It is intended to build a more resilient future for our capital, with the City leading the way. What better opportunity for the cleaning industry and liveries, including the WCEC, to be proactive.  

One of the environmental concerns of the pandemic has been the effect of increased use of cleaning agents to control COVID spread in our built environment. It prompts more focus on the use of greener cleaning materials that have fewer or no negative impacts. The use of probiotic cleaners has a larger following, using friendly bacteria to keep our spaces cleaner for longer rather than using chemicals for hygiene, which can do more harm than good. 

A greener cleaning route

Much of the cleaning industry is now following the greener probiotic cleaning route, and hopefully they will lead by example and encourage other peers to do the same. I feel that some of the smaller companies and clients are very passionate about the environment but don’t have the knowledge on how to start a different cleaning offering. So it’s part of my role to reach out to them through my network, and through the WCEC to help them make more informed decisions, and thereby become more environmentally responsible on a practical level.

My other great passion and ambition for the cleaning industry is to do what I can to promote its professionalism.  Often regarded of as an afterthought career choice, entering the cleaning industry is anything but that. Those of us within it have an obligation to change the narrative on our worth, significance, social and economic clout.  Furthermore, we must bring others up behind us. It took a global pandemic for cleaning and hygiene to be acknowledged as a vital contributor to society. Now that we are out of the shadows, let us continue to raise the standards from the inside.

This is why I am a great supporter of the Chartered Practitioners Register launched by the WCEC this year, open to anyone to apply. With it in place, we can build clearer and more defined career paths. It will afford our industry members the same acknowledgement as other professions – a recognisable award that demonstrates our skills, experience and commitment as professionals in our field. 

As we re-emerge from a long period of stagnation, l hope that we continue to grow as an industry with vigour, collaboration and purpose. The UK cleaning industry is an esteemed collection of companies and individuals, and it’s time everybody else knew that.

Gary Fage is Master of the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC)

For more information visit https://wc-ec.com/