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Catherine Hackett

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The best of the British cleaning industry 03/07/2019

As the deadline on Brexit moves back to Halloween, and uncertainty over the type of deal being implemented continues, British businesses may feel they’ve been in limbo for a long time – unsure whether to make important decisions about the future.

There will no doubt be tricky times ahead for British business whatever the outcome, and it’s hard to remain positive in the face of daily headlines that highlight the difficulty in preparing for the unknown. In June, for instance, the Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that about 150,000 businesses still do not have the paperwork they need to keep exporting to the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In the face of ongoing doom and gloom in the media, we thought it was the right time to focus on something positive: the achievements of the British professional cleaning industry. Cleaning Matters also turns 20 this year and we’re not the only ones in the industry celebrating important milestones.

We will therefore be publishing a ‘Best of British’ guide in the next issue, supported by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) to celebrate all things great about the UK cleaning industry.

UK-based manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and contract cleaners of all sizes are invited to get involved and to shout about their achievements – from businesses that have a long and rich history in the UK to those experiencing unprecedented growth to award-winning innovators.

There are a number of hidden gems that I have discovered on my travels up and down the county over the years that I am also looking forward to featuring. The products and services they provide are renowned and respected but the unique stories behind them – the heritage, the entrepreneurial spirit, the craftsmanship – are not necessarily known. 

We’d also love to hear from individuals on the frontline – our readers who have carved out successful careers in cleaning and made valuable contributions to their business, customers or the industry as a whole. 

To share your business’ success or your personal story, please send in up to 200 words outlining your achievements in the UK cleaning industry and a high-res photo to CHackett@western-bp.co.uk by 26th July.

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Building an event for the UK’s FM professional 03/07/2019

In April, an unprecedented number of facilities and workplace professionals attended The Facilities Event at the NEC in Birmingham to network and do business at the exhibition dedicated to the UK’s FM industry.

Nearly 12,000 professionals attended the three-day show, which was co-located with The Health & Safety Event, The Fire Safety Event and – brand new for 2019 – The Security Event. Together, these events created the ultimate business update for facilities professionals, giving visitors free access to over 350 manufacturers and suppliers and 120 hours of CPD-accredited content.

This year’s facilities educational programme was delivered from a central theatre, The Facilities Hub, and focused on the ‘Five Pillars of FM’ covering key elements affecting the daily working life of the FM professional. The ‘Five Pillars’ included cleaning services, security, catering, property management and support & technology services.

Under this educational theme, key voices from the UK’s FM and workplace community tackled some of the biggest challenges facing FMs. Speakers and panel debates of experts took on thought-provoking sessions. Topics included workplace technology, energy management, security, single-use plastics, workplace catering and fire legislation.

Preparation for The Facilities Event 2020 is already in place, and with 90% of existing exhibitors already signed up for the show, the event is expected to be even bigger and better! 

Taking place on the 28-30 April 2020, the event returns to The NEC, and as the official journal for The Facilities Event, we’re keen to find out what topics you would like to hear about in next year’s free and CPD-accredited educational programme. Please contact me by emailing CHackett@western-bp.co.uk. For more information about the show, please visit: www.facilitiesevents.com

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The plastic conversation is fantastic, but... 01/05/2019

Plastics are rarely out of the headlines these days. I've talked about it here a number of times but it would be remiss of me not to bring it up again considering how much media coverage it has received recently.

In February, Glastonbury announced that the festival is banning single-use plastic, meaning revellers will have to provide their own reusable bottles in order to make use of the water taps.

In April it was reported that awareness-raising initiatives including the BBC's Blue Planet II and Netflix's Our Planet have led to a whopping 53% drop in single-use plastic in 12 months!

Then Guinness announced that it will stop using plastic in beer multipacks, switching instead to 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard. And Tesco has launched a trial to remove some plastic wrapped fruit and vegetable products from its stores.

The Cheeky Panda, which produces ultra-sustainable 100% bamboo tissue products, doesn't use single-use plastic in any of its product packaging but has gone even further by replacing the recyclable plastic packaging on its toilet rolls and facial tissues with 100% recyclable cardboard. It also plans for packaging across its whole range to be plastic-free by the end of this year.

While co-founder and director Chris Forbes believes there is a demand to reduce the use of all plastics in the B2B cleaning and facilities management market as well as in the consumer market, the main focus at the recent Facilities Event (9-11 April at the NEC, Birmingham) was on single-use plastics. 

A seminar by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) into how professionals within the built environment can play their part in reducing single-use plastic proved to be one of the most popular presentations in the three-day programme. OCS head of cleaning Yvonne Taylor also spoke about how the group is reducing its reliance on single-use plastics in cleaning and catering operations.

Of course, single-use plastics are only one small part of a much bigger problem. And while it's fantastic that it has really captured the public and businesses' imagination, there is a lot more we can be doing to protect the environment and to help ensure the survival of our species. 

For example, The Cheeky Panda's tissue products are made from bamboo, the world’s fastest growing plant, as an alternative to trees, which helps to prevent deforestation. Bamboo also absorbs 35% more carbon and produces 30% more oxygen than trees. 

People may be latching onto products due to plastic-related issues rather than the raison d'etre of the product itself, but there is hope that it will snowball. As Forbes says: "Talking about plastic leads to a wider conversation."

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Facilitating the industry 26/03/2019

This month, we're excited to announce the launch of sister publication Facilities Matters. The new magazine will cover all the key aspects of facilities management (FM).

We hope this will create added value for Cleaning Matters readers while providing time-pressed workplace and facilities management professionals with everything they need to know about cleaning and FM in one place – from news and expert insight, to trends and developments, and new product and service launches. 

As organisers of the leading exhibition dedicated to the UK’s facilities and workplace industry, The Facilities Event (9-11 April, NEC, Birmingham), we're looking forward to drawing on our industry know-how and working with key associations and innovators to further explore and report on the dynamic and constantly evolving world of FM.

In line with how our seminar programmes are delivered at The Facilities Event, our topical features will be divided into the 'Five Pillars of FM'. These cover key elements within the FM profession and include Cleaning Services, Security, Catering, Property Management and Support & Technology Services.

In this issue, we'll be focusing on 'Support & Technology Services', including how to improve your front of house and what the future holds for robotics in FM.

We look at how one of the most forward-thinking serviced office providers is putting employee wellbeing at the heart of its new building, with each room carefully designed to bring a smile to the face with some superbly creative ideas.

Facilities Matters also speaks to OCS, the outsourced cleaning, security and maintenance provider for the Oval cricket ground in Kennington, as it prepares for a big test this summer when thousands of fans descend upon the grounds to enjoy the Cricket World Cup and The Ashes.

With The Facilities Event (9-11 April, NEC, Birmingham) just around the corner, we provide a comprehensive preview of what visitors can expect from the exhibition and free conference programme. 

We're also pleased to present the first of a three-part series sponsored by RPC bpi recycled products on Recycling & Waste Management, a sector that is increasingly at the forefront of innovation and ingenuity.

In 2019, we'll be producing two more editions of Facilities Matters inside the July and November issues of Cleaning Matters. If you'd like to get involved or find out more, please email me at CHackett@western-bp.co.uk

You can find the first edition of Facilities Matters here  – we hope you enjoy reading it.

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New content for a new year 18/01/2019

This year, Cleaning Matters celebrates 20 years in the marketplace and, to mark this, 2019 will see some brand new elements introduced into the portfolio. 

To begin with, Cleaning Matters is excited to announce the launch of its roundtable debates, which aim to educate and engage cleaning professionals on the hottest topics in the industry.

Each debate will be chaired by Cleaning Matters and involve a panel of renowned industry experts discussing firstly 'The Future of Washroom Hygiene', which will be held in May, and secondly how to 'Protect Your Staff, Premises and Bottom Line from Norovirus' , to be held in October.

Both events will be filmed and the content hosted via our digital and social platforms as well as written up to appear in the magazine. You can find out more, including an announcement of our first partners to join the panels here.

As part of our commitment to delivering thought-provoking content, this year also sees the launch of our sponsored columns inside the magazine.  

As regular readers of Cleaning Matters will be aware, the magazine is divided into sections that we believe, between them, cover the full spectrum of professional cleaning – from floorcare and industrial cleaning to infection prevention & control and sustainable cleaning. Each section contains the latest related products and services, and often feature-length articles that explore the key issues and trends taking place in the market.

In the fullness of time, each of these sections will be headed up by a sponsored column from a thought leader within our industry. Each spokesperson will draw on their knowledge and expertise to provide a unique insight into the goings on within the sector. In the January issue we are delighted to introduce the very first of these from Denis Rawlins, SEBO, ICE, GOJO and Diversey – we hope you enjoy reading them!

One of the reasons that Cleaning Matters remains the market leader 20 years on is its ability to evolve with the market. Recognising that facilities managers are having to take on more and more responsibility, the next logical step is to further enhance our content so that time-pressed facilities managers can not only source information about cleaning but a range of complementary products and services all in one place. 

As the organisers of The Facilities Event, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham every spring, we are in a strong position to do this. We look forward to bringing you our enhanced facilities management (FM) offering in our next issue, which will also include the first in a special series on recycling and waste management in partnership with RPC bpi recycled products.

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Collaboration is key to infection prevention 17/10/2018

Cleaning Matters recently attended the first ever Infection Prevention Show in Glasgow (30th September to 2nd October, SEC). It brought together infection prevention and control specialists from across the UK to discuss the increasing difficulties we face in a financially challenging time. It also provided a platform to showcase the latest innovations and technologies in infection prevention and control (IPC).  

The deadliest war being fought against infections is, of course, in the hospital and healthcare sector where antimicrobial resistance is causing standard treatments to become ineffective and infections to persist, which may spread to others.

But in his session, Infection Prevention Show host Dr Phil Hammond – an NHS doctor, BBC broadcaster and Private Eye journalist – focused on the IPC challenges we face, not just in healthcare, but in other partner organisations such as veterinary, pharmacy, hospitality, social care and education.

Dr Phil said that we need collaboration to help solve the complex problems facing us within these environments, as well as "a culture that allows us to speak up and challenge, knowing our concerns will be acted on".

This, he said, is defined brilliantly by Margaret Heffernan in her book A Bigger Prize:

"Innovative organisations thrive not because they breed superstars but because they cherish, nurture and support the vast range of talents, personalities and skills that true creativity requires. Collaboration is a habit of mind, solidified by routine and prepared on openness, generosity, rigour and patience. 

"It requires precise and fearless communication, without status, awe or intimidation. Everyone must bring their best. And failure is part of the deal, an inevitable part of the process to be greeted with support, encouragement and faith. The safest hospitals are those where it’s easiest to acknowledge an error. The biggest prizes grow as they are shared."

This call for greater collaboration is particularly worth bearing in mind as we head into the flu season, and that of the 'winter vomiting bug', norovirus.

While experts say that the flu season in 2018 will be difficult to predict, looking over the past four years of flu outbreaks, there is a clear trend in increasing infections, especially in care homes, according to reports from Public Health England (PHE). A lecturer in public health at Liverpool University has also warned that a summer outbreak of norovirus could be a sign of a mutated strain, which could lead to a greater number of cases this winter.

Proper cleaning and hygiene practices, along with open and honest communication and collaboration among cleaning staff and between cleaning teams and other staff, will be vital in helping to prevent the spread of such infections.

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Waste not, want not 07/09/2018

A new event focused on resource efficiency and waste management will be launched to run alongside next year's Cleaning Show on 19-21 March 2019 at London's ExCeL.

The Resource Management Show will offer waste and recycling suppliers the opportunity to meet the UK's leading contract cleaners, facilities managers, local authorities, and a wide range of other cleaning and FM-related businesses. The announcement of the show is timely, as the UK begins to feel the effects of China's recently-imposed restrictions on importing mixed recyclables.

According to Stephen Cameron, business development director at waste solutions company SWRnewstar, "The financial implications of the ban have predominantly been felt by local councils and waste management suppliers who are no longer able to obtain rebates on mixed recyclables that used to be shipped to China – and are instead being hit with higher disposal costs for the same materials.

"Conversely, commercial and industrial businesses have largely been insulated from the impact, with major waste management players prepared to take a hit on margin rather than pass all those costs onto their customers. It's an approach that's unsustainable. In the fullness of time, businesses will need to rethink their approach to managing waste as the true impact of China's ban finally shows its teeth."

The China issue is only one of several reasons cited by organisers for launching the Resource Management Show. Another key reason is, of course, Brexit, which is likely to require many companies to adapt their processes, particularly how waste management is handled in terms of trans-frontier shipments, exports and imports. 

Attempts are being made to get ahead of such issues: In April this year businesses that are responsible for over 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets signed up to a world-first pact, which aims to stimulate innovative new business models to reduce the total amount of plastic packaging. 

Around the same time, Costa announced it will become the first UK coffee chain to commit to recycling the same volume of cups it puts onto the market. The company has developed a scheme whereby waste management companies are financially incentivised to collect cups, which are a high-value material that can be recycled up to seven times.

Whether you're a manufacturer, supplier or end user, if your business is taking a proactive approach to reduce the amount of avoidable waste you produce we'd love to hear from you and to share your ideas with the wider professional cleaning community. Please email me at CHackett@western-bp.co.uk

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All's well that ends well 15/06/2018

These days, I'm pleased to say, worker well-being is increasingly – if indirectly – making the headlines. For instance, some news stories you may have read recently on www.cleaning-matters.co.uk include Enhance Office Cleaning winning a Living Wage Champion Award. It's in recognition of their consistent effort to promote the benefits of paying the voluntary Living Wage to their clients and to others, and therefore champion fair pay within a traditionally low pay industry.  

Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Employers like Enhance are leading the way in placing dignity and respect at the heart of their organisation."

Elsewhere, the importance of recognising and rewarding cleaning operatives is gaining traction in the industry as The Hill Club Annual Awards returns in July. 

The Washroom Cleaner of the Year Awards, launched in 2017 as part of the Loo of the Year Awards, will also be back in December to recognise the dedicated staff that look after the facilities, whether that be individual washroom cleaners, in-house cleaning teams or external cleaning/FM contractors.

Awards such as these play an important role in making staff feel valued, and they are just some of initiatives taking place in the cleaning sector to improve staff well-being and maintain morale. 

Some contract cleaning companies are running their own internal awards; offering more practical initiatives such as a free counselling service and investing in the future of individuals through training and development; or offering discretionary perks such as organising social events or offering staff an extra day off on their birthday.

The increasing investment in worker well-being is not completely altruistic. More and more companies are realising there's a business case for it. A study and survey – published in May 2018 by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and Westfield Health and carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies – showed that the overall mental health and well-being of employees is inextricably linked to motivation, engagement and performance in the workplace.

By contrast, the study highlights that poor well-being can increase costs, reduce motivation and employee engagement and take up management time dealing with issues such as absence and occupational health costs.

Workplace-related stress and mental health issues are becoming a bigger concern than ever: In 2016/17, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics revealed that 12.5 million of the 31.2 million working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal injuries were because of stress, anxiety and depression (40%). On average, each person suffering took 23.8 days off.

While there are lots of issues related to staff well-being, for those businesses who are only starting to address this and wish to create a better work environment, simply saying 'thank you' is a good place to start.

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There's no time to waste 25/04/2018

Sustainable practices are increasingly becoming our daily habits. This is particularly true when it comes to cutting down plastic waste – whether it's separating plastics from our general domestic waste for recycling or taking reusable shopping bags to the supermarket.  

Awareness has grown in recent years of the issues surrounding plastic waste with many initiatives being launched to help reduce it. 

A scheme is being proposed to encourage recycling and cut plastic waste, which would see customers in England pay more for drinks in the shops.

It was also recently announced that shops and businesses around London including Costa Coffee, Tate Modern, BFI Imax and Leon have joined a Thames Water scheme that offers people free tap water ‘refills’ as part of the Mayor of London’s plans to reduce single-use plastic bottles in the capital.

In Norway, 95% of all plastic bottles are now recycled, compared with England at the moment where the rate is 57%. About half of all the plastic bottles used in a year in England are water bottles.

Of course, more action must be taken to reduce the damage being done before it becomes irreversible. 

Plastic has toxic pollutants that damage the environment and cause land, water and air pollution. It can take hundreds or even thousands of years for plastic to break down, so the damage to the environment is long-lasting.

With more than eight million tonnes going into the oceans every year, it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish by 2050 and 99 per cent of all seabirds on the planet will have consumed some.

The cleaning and hygiene industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling this serious issue and, in doing so, to demonstrate its value to the world. 

There are already forward-thinking companies recycling and repurposing plastics from bin liners, chemical packaging and polybags, as well as finding ways to reduce the use of plastic altogether. There is even cleaning-product packaging created from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic which, by 'closing the loop' in the use of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, is a significant step towards becoming a circular economy. 

But is there consumer demand for sustainable products and an acceptance of their importance? Among the readers of Cleaning Matters, it would appear so. According to our recent survey into the Future of Cleaning, 89 per cent of cleaning professionals surveyed at the end of 2017 thought environmental concerns would either be a significant or major driver within the cleaning industry in the years to come.

This prediction is already coming true: The Government published details in January of its 25-year Environmental Plan, with ministers vowing to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, improve the natural environment and throw much more emphasis on innovation in plastics to keep it out of landfill and our oceans. 

The time is ripe for change so what are you waiting for? With a dumper truck's worth of plastic thrown into the ocean per minute, there really is no time like the present.

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Innovation on the march 26/03/2018

The March magazine of Cleaning Matters is unofficially known as the 'Events Issue'. You will soon see why once you start reading: it is crammed with news and previews of all the events happening over the next few months.

One of the most commendable qualities of our industry events is that they are continuously evolving to meet the customer and business needs of tomorrow and to drive innovation. For instance, the Kimberly-Clark Professional Golden Service Awards is back after a three-year hiatus and has been revamped to re-focus on core industry areas. The awards, which were presented on 8th March at The London Hilton Park Lane, provide the opportunity for contract cleaners and in-house cleaning teams to showcase excellence and set new high benchmarking standards in the cleaning industry.

Shows are also raising the bar particularly when it comes to the provision of high quality educational content. Aside from featuring a comprehensive exhibition, The Facilities Event has promised to deliver its strongest, most practical training and education offering on 10th to 12th April at the NEC Birmingham with a line-up of leading international specialists. Meanwhile, the overall theme of the Manchester Cleaning Show (11th to 12th April, Event City) will be looking at the challenges and opportunities facing the UK's cleaning, hygiene and waste management industries over the next five years.

Last but not least INTERCLEAN Amsterdam, which takes place at the RAI on 15th to 18th May, will be launching a healthcare cleaning forum which explores the importance of cleaning to prevent healthcare acquired infections (HCAIs). It will also be adding several new side events and segments – in particular a dedicated area for the On-Premise-Laundry (OPL) sector.

Find out more in our March issue.

Many of the latest trends illustrated by the innovative equipment and services on show at the exhibitions, and the themes highlighted in the seminar sessions, will be explored in our brand new special report: The Future of Cleaning.

The report analyses the results of a survey which invited Cleaning Matters readers to share their thoughts and opinions on what the future holds for the cleaning sector. 

It also includes comment from respected experts in their field and industry associations on the key issues that arose including Brexit, the growing skills gap, professional standards, health and safety at work, and increasing automation within the sector.

Click here to download the report.

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