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Is honesty your policy?

07 March 2013

Gary Fage, council member of the CHSA and a director of the Jangro Group speaks out against mis-labelling of washroom and chemical products

Gary Fage, council member of the CHSA and a director of the Jangro Group speaks out against mis-labelling of washroom and chemical products

When Jangro announced that each of its 41 outlets had joined the Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA), it was just one of many ways in which our membership, comprising independent janitorial suppliers, could actively show its desire to ensure professionalism in the washroom business and expose what we see as 'paper product cheats'.

Some areas of our profession have been awash with confusing product explanations and misleading claims on packaging and literature, on websites and in presentations. This applies to paper and washroom chemicals.

I am not criticising responsible organisations that clearly label everything, but, in particular, there are some paper towel and toilet tissue 'trade suppliers' that have for too long sold on vaguerisms and a lack of specific, very basic information.

I believe that some manufacturers are dishonest in what they say and what they don't say. Many manufacturers state the positives, but have, in my view, been dishonest in not providing the full picture as to what a product does and does not do, plus its environmental downsides. In the washroom we have many chemicals, and customers must know if they are hazardous in use or in disposal. And we need to be aware as to whether paper products are made of recycled paper or virgin pulp.

Size matters The CHSA has for years joined with leading manufacturers of paper tissue, plastic refuse sacks and cotton mops to agree specific product standards in three accreditation schemes. These cover labelling, for example, soft tissue labels have to contain details of roll length and width, number of sheets on a roll or number of hand towels, and other mandatory information. This allows reputable manufacturers to work on an even playing field and buyers get precisely what it says on the pack.

There continue to be manufacturers and converters supplying 'jumbo' toilet rolls often containing less sheets or smaller rolls - but how do you know if you are comparing apples with apples, if the pack simply describes it as 'jumbo roll'? Supermarkets state on their shelf strips the number of sheets per roll, cost per sheet, etc, so that consumers can compare brands.

When cost is king, we must look at cost in use or cost per metre not cost per roll. Paper manufacturers joining the CHSA's Soft Tissue Accreditation Scheme regularly undergo audits by independent inspectors. Roll lengths, sheet count and number of towels per case are thoroughly checked. End users can be assured that manufacturers that subscribe to the accreditation are supplying independently measured products.

On a roll Recently roll lengths on products like jumbo's, mini jumbo's and centrefeed rolls have decreased dramatically. Traditionally, centrefeed rolls, which are widely used in catering industry hand wash facilities, come in 150m lengths for 2ply rolls and 300m for 1ply. Jangro members have received many customer complaints claiming that centrefeed rolls are much cheaper at the local cash & carry. Paying 20 per cent less for a product that contains 25 per cent less paper doesn't save money, but how is the end user to know? Some manufacturers deceive customers by not stating roll lengths on products because there is no legal requirement - but the CHSA has found manufacturers blatantly promoting false information.

One supplier claimed that its centrefeed roll contained 150m; it was actually below 113m.

Contract cleaners supplying products to their customers probably don't worry much about roll sizes, as they are too busy handling the cleaning. But if a supplier changes the roll size unannounced, a contractor could be charging clients for full size rolls when they may be supplying 25 per cent less paper. Smaller roll sizes are invariably pro-rata more expensive and create more packaging per square metre, which has an environmental effect.

The only reliable way I believe you can ensure that you are getting what you believe you are paying for is to make sure that you only buy paper products displaying the CHSA Soft Tissue Accreditation logo.

So, having had my say, here is my proposal. All trade associations and manufacturer and user groups should insist that manufacturers publish specific information (positive and negative). They must illustrate all the real costs in use and the environmental costs against a measure from an independent body or trade association. This data must be used on all printed and online packaging and information. For more information or to submit your own views please visit my blog at www.garyfage.wordpress.com