Category Archives: Green Cleaning

Australia’s highest green accreditation achieved for commercial cleaning products

After months of hard work and dedication, Agar Cleaning Systems has proudly licenced seven cleaning products from its Green Cleaning Range to the latest, and much more stringent commercial cleaning product standard (CPv2.2i-2012) from Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA).

GECA is the “gold class” of Australian ecolabelling programs. Its label provides confidence for buyers, confused by the host of green washing marketing material, to make trusted, environmentally sustainable choices.

Property managers looking for the highest standard of environmentally preferable solutions will demand the use of cleaning products certified by GECA. Using GECA products sends a clear message to your clients that you are committed to environmental sustainability and the use of concentrated, high performance products.

What is the difference between GECA and other green labels in Australia?

GECA is an independent, not for profit organisation which runs a multi-sector green certification program. In simple terms this means that GECA has no ties to the cleaning industry or any association within it, it provides certification to a range of commercial products and suppliers and all its profits go back into the organisation to fund further programs.

Internationally recognised, GECA’s ecolabelling program is Australia’s only member of the Global Ecolabelling Network, home to other world renowned members such as Green Seal (USA), The Nordic Swan (Nordic 5 countries) and EU Ecolabel (Europe).

GECA’s standards are more rigorous than any other Australian ecolabelling program for commercial cleaning products and are extremely difficult to achieve. The program not only takes into account product factors, such as the ingredients used, level of biodegradability, minimal and recyclable packaging, and increased concentration and product performance but also includes the health impacts that the products can have on the user as well as the conditions that the products are manufactured under.

GECA’s programs are fully transparent and its standards are developed through consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including industries, experts and the general public.

New to the latest standard and unique to GECA is the requirement that 20% of all palm oil and palm kernel oil used in certified products must be obtained from sustainable sources. In order to comply with this requirement for all its cleaning products, not just those certified by GECA, Agar has   purchased Green Palm Sustainability certificates.

These certificates enable Agar a verified option for supporting sustainable palm oil and provides its clients with the confidence that its supplier is environmentally responsible.

What benefits can you gain from using Agar’s GECA certified products?

Commitment to the environment and staff – Using GECA certified products sends a strong message to property managers and other clients about the commitment your company has to the environment. With the most stringent standards for accreditation, you can be sure that using Agar’s GECA certified cleaning products will position your company at the leading edge of environmental sustainability.

Unique proposition – Promoting the use of Agar’s GECA certified products sets cleaning service businesses apart from competitors and gives it an advantage.

More performance –The Agar GECA certified range has been specially formulated to work just as hard as traditional cleaning products to ensure cleaners get the same, great performance and results they have come to expect from Agar.

Value for money –Agar boasts high concentrations across all its products and the GECA range is no exception. Formulated so that users get the most out of each bottle, the range minimises transport and packaging costs to save businesses money and reduce carbon emissions.

Achieving the new standard

To be awarded the new standard, many of the products in Agar’s GECA range needed to be further refined or significantly reformulated to be approved. This occasion marks a very important achievement for Agar, as it demonstrates its ability to formulate products that perform at a high level while minimising environmental impact.

The demanding accreditation procedure ensures that Agar’s products are not only safer for the environment but safer for its users too.

Summary of changes for the new standard

  • New palm oil and palm kernel oil criteria ensure that if these raw materials are used, a minimum of 20% must be purchased from sustainable, responsible sources. Agar is now a paid-up signatory to the Green Palm Organisation which enables us to buy certificates that support farmers who produce responsibly-grown palm and palm kernel oil from RSPO manufacturers. (RSPO stands for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). This stops the destruction of palm-tree forest habitat for endangered species and protects peatlands which are reservoirs for large amounts of CO2. Agar will offset ALL palm and palm kernel oil it uses in ALL products, not just the GECA products, to ensure that these raw materials come from sustainable, responsible suppliers.
  • ALL organic ingredients and surfactants must be aerobically biodegradable. This is now a more stringent requirement and ensures a higher level of biodegradability. This requirement has lead Agar to further refine several of its GECA products as it has dramatically reduced the range of organic materials that can be used in the products. Many stock-standard detergent surfactants used in industry will not pass this test.
  • ALL surfactants must be anaerobically biodegradable. This means that they will break down even in sludge where there is little oxygen. Again, this greatly restricts the types of surfactant Agar can use.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds are limited to 3% by weight in the diluted solution of cleaning product. The old limit was 5%, so this is a further tightening of the volatile organics, such as solvents and perfumes. It will lead to even better indoor air quality where these products are used.
  • No phosphates are now permitted. The old Standard allowed a small amount of phosphates to be used. Phosphates are not desirable in inland waterways because they promote the growth of algal blooms and eutrophication in lakes and rivers if the product were to find its way into these waterways.
  • The manufacturer’s factory waste water emissions must now be monitored and analysed for volume, chemical oxygen demand and contaminants. This is to ensure that the production facility is not causing pollution of the downstream treatment facilities.
  • The products must not be classed as Dangerous Goods or Hazardous goods (with the only exception being toilet cleaners which can be Xi Irritant, not C Corrosive).
  • The products must be completely free from all carcinogens, teratogens and endocrine disruptors. This is to protect the health and safety of people using the products.
  • A comprehensive list of seriously toxic and environment-pollution chemicals have been banned from these cleaning products.
  • All bioaccumulative substances have been banned. No chemicals that could potentially accumulate in human tissue are present in GECA-accredited products.
  • Ingredients that are classed as toxic or harmful to the environment have been capped at 1% maximum by the Standard.
  • New rules stipulate that the ratio of the volume of shipped goods transported to the volume of in-use product that can be made from the goods is below a limit of 2:3. This is to minimise the amount of energy wasted by transporting excess water in the products.
  • Waste management is now audited in the factory to ensure that raw material losses in the manufacturing process are absolutely minimal.
  • Energy conservation policies must be in place in the factory.
  • The best effective storage procedures must be utilised to prevent spills, leaks or emissions of chemical raw materials to water, land or air. This is to prevent accidental pollution from occurring.
  • All GECA-accredited products must now pass the above requirements in addition to all of the original GECA requirements which are still in place. For more detailed information, you can access GECA Standard No: CPv2.2-2012 at http://www.geca.org.au/products/standards/49/

How to improve your cleaning business’s green credentials

The focus on environmentally friendly solutions continues to grow with more people making a conscious effort to ‘go green’ in their product and service choices. With the lingering fear of global warming and other threats to our natural environment continually being publicised, it’s not surprising that we are seeing a growing interest in the green movement. So how do you get your cleaning business’s eco image up to scratch without breaking the bank? Check out these five tips below to help you.

1. Use certified green cleaning products

The obvious first choice is to begin using Green Cleaning Products instead of traditional chemical cleaners. These products tend to be kinder on the environment, can be purchased for relatively the same cost as standard cleaning supplies and give your business that instant boost.

Make sure you are getting the real deal by purchasing cleaning products which are certified by an independent company such as Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA). Agar has a range of Green Cleaning products which are certified by GECA, are biodegradable, phosphate-free, non-toxic and safe to use. Each product within the range is formulated to be high performance so that you don’t have to sacrifice cleaning power for green.

Agar’s in the Green Cleaning Product Range includes:
  • All Purpose & Floor Cleaners – pH-7 & Spruce
  • Spray & Wipe Cleaners – Citra-Mist
  • Heavy Duty Detergent – Enyclean
  • Toilet & Bathroom Cleaners – Fresco & Sequal
  • Glass Cleaner – Bellevue
  • Carpet Spot Cleaner – Citrus Extra, Spot Wiz

2. Go green in the office

If your business is office based, bump up your green credentials with these easy steps.

a. Printing

Only print what you absolutely must! Store your files electronically and send emails instead of mail to reduce your paper trail. Don’t print emails you receive and opt to have all your bills sent to you via email.

b. Recycle, Re-use and Donate

You recycle at home so why not recycle at work? Recycling paper in the office is now easier than ever with many Councils and commercial recyclers offering paper recycling services for local businesses. Recycled paper uses up to 50% less energy and 90% less water than making it from raw materials! Specialised companies are also offering solutions for recycling plastic and composting organic waste, greatly reducing your office’s impact on the environment!

Australians purchase up to 2.4 million computers a year, greatly contributing to the growing problem of e-waste. Computers, monitors, phones and TV’s can all be recycled for their valuable parts through specialised companies such as TechCollect.

Finally make a conscience effort to choose re-usable items and re-purpose furniture and equipment where possible. Remember; it all adds up!

c. Heating and cooling

Keep the use of heating and cooling equipment to the minimum. Set air conditioners to a minimum of 25 degrees during summer and 18-21 degrees in winter. Each degree you don’t use can make a big difference to the overall emissions created. Stick to the highest rated energy units to further the benefits.

d. Turn off electrical items

Make sure you turn off all appliances and electrical equipment at night or when you leave your office for an extended period of time. Install sleep settings to all computers and devices to ensure that they aren’t using unnecessary power.

e. Switch to solar

Where possible invest in solar power panels to offset or completely cover your office’s electricity usage. You can also invest in a solar powered hot water system to further reduce usage and emissions. Not only will you save money on your bills but you will also be producing a cleaner, more sustainable energy source.

3. Plan your travel wisely

a. Schedule your routes in local areas

For most cleaning businesses, travel is an essential part of servicing customers. To minimise kilometres travelled, schedule cleaning jobs in local areas on certain days. Speak to current clients about potentially swapping days or time slots and explain that you are trying to streamline your travel between clients.

When it comes to business meetings why not make use of technology and schedule select appointments via Skype, video conference or teleconference. While it may not be suitable to always meet this way, it can cut down on considerable travel emissions when used as a regular alternative.

b. Newer, more economical vehicles

Newer cars tend to use less fuel and are more efficient, reducing greenhouse emissions. Where possible, only purchase vehicles with better fuel consumption figures. Avoid ‘theoretical’ figures released from car manufacturers and instead look at real-world fuel consumption reported in road tests as they are a better guide.

c. Place bigger orders, less often

When ordering items like cleaning supplies, place larger orders less often. Cutting down your order from twice per month to once per month will halve the emissions produced during your delivery

4. Make a point of purchasing quality

Regardless of what you are purchasing, items of quality tend to last longer, provide better performance and save you money in the long run. When selecting office equipment, business tools, cleaning products and cleaning supplies, such as vacuum cleaners, always go for items which advertise quality and high performance.

Getting more out of your purchases means less items being thrown into landfill, less delivery, less money spent on items overall and in some cases, less power required to run the items.

5. Return cleaning product bottles

A quick and simple option for further reducing the environmental impact of cleaning supplies is to return the cleaning product bottles to Agar for refilling. When you receive your delivery from an Agar truck, simply leave out the used cleaning product bottles and Agar will collect them. Alternatively you can return them to Agar.

This service is currently only available in the metro Melbourne area. Agar’s cleaning products come in 100% recyclable plastic bottles which can be disposed of in standard recycling bins or through a commercial recycling company.

Taking these steps will help your business reduce its emissions and environmental foot print while helping to improve its ‘green’ image.